The Group has been reshaped into a multinational engineering and construction group, targeting the natural resources, industrial, energy, water and specialised infrastructure sectors which present the best opportunities for growth, diversification and differentiation for its three business platforms.
The Group's scope includes international market sectors with robust fixed capital investment fundamentals. These market sectors are expected to benefit from dedicated and extensive stimulus earmarked for a post-pandemic infrastructure-led economic recovery, which will be targeted to sustainably meet the needs of a growing and urbanising global population.
The unwavering implementation of the Group's strategy over the past few years culminated in continued order book growth and a sizeable aggregation of near orders. Given the execution risk associated with the Group's substantial order book, leadership across the Group is focused on disciplined project execution, to ensure the delivery of a rejuvenated Group profit.
Stakeholders are referred to the previous announcements regarding the Group's exit from the Middle East, following its strategic decision in 2017 to withdraw from the building and civil construction sectors and to sell its Infrastructure & Building platform in South Africa. The business in the Middle East was excluded from the sale and pursuing an exit from the region has been a multi-year and complex task, exacerbated by the arduous process of managing commercial close out for all completed building projects.
The Group's exit from the Middle East is progressing and it has entered a transaction process with a UAE-based investment company for the sale to it of the Abu Dhabi and Dubai companies. Regulatory approval is a pre-requisite for the shares to be transferred to the purchaser. The transaction is expected to be concluded by the end of September 2021. Considering the remaining project disputes in each of the two companies, the parties agreed that the consideration for sale would be a nominal amount.
Although the Group will retain certain potential contingent liabilities post the sale of these two companies – which will be appropriately managed – the proposed transaction will significantly reduce the outflow of ongoing legal fees and costs of maintaining an office in the UAE.
The Group is recovering from the initial impact it experienced in FY2020 from the pandemic and related deferrals, closures, and restrictions, with continuing operations returning to profitability in the year under review. The Group’s exposure to the natural resources, industrial, energy, water and infrastructure markets, and its strong order book from those markets, holds the potential for meaningful earnings growth in FY2022 and in the medium term.
Revenue from continuing operations increased to R21,9 billion (FY2020: R20,8 billion), of which 81% was generated from outside of South Africa. The Group reported strong growth in earnings before interest and tax from continuing operations to R540 million (FY2020: R17 million loss). Operating earnings were partly offset by an increased loss for discontinued operations, resulting predominantly from non-recurring extraordinary and non-cash losses, while the attributable loss reduced to R180 million (FY2020: R352 million loss).
The effective tax rate remains high at 73%, mainly due to withholding tax in foreign jurisdictions, as well as losses incurred in entities where future taxable earnings are uncertain. Consequently, no deferred tax assets could be recognised on these losses. It is expected that the tax rate will normalise at more acceptable levels in the near term.
The growth in earnings from continuing operations resulted in diluted continuing headline earnings per share of 16 cents (FY2020: 88 cents loss per share). Cash, net of debt, also improved to R0,7 billion (FY2020: R0,1 billion net debt). The Group is further pleased to report an order book of R60,7 billion (FY2020: R54,2 billion).
Every year, the board of directors of the Company (“Board”) considers an annual dividend, post year end. Dividends are subject to the Group’s financial position and market conditions. Considering the Group’s large and growing order book and its impact on working capital requirements, the Board has resolved not to declare a dividend for the period under review.
The Group reported a strong order book of R60,7 billion (FY2020: R54,2 billion), which includes several multi-year contracts. The project pipeline includes near orders of R11,1 billion (FY2020: R11,4 billion) and Category 1 project opportunities of R84,1 billion (FY2020: R121,3 billion), of which circa R30 billion is being negotiated on a sole-tender basis.
|Category 1||Category 2||Category 3|
|Energy, Resources & Infrastructure||37,0||1,1||44,7||35,7||535,8|
|Power, Industrial & Water||0,5||0,3||6,4||35,0||13,0|
|30 June 2021||60,7||11,1||84,1||94,7||583,9|
|31 December 2020||60,5||19,9||94,7||116,7||562,7|
|30 June 2020||54,2||11,4||121,3||123,5||469,8|
After the past few years of strategic repositioning to diversify away from its dependence on a single cyclical market in Australian LNG, the platform strongly returned to profitability in the year.
Revenue and operating profit increased to R11,4 billion (FY2020: R6,9 billion) and R227 million (FY2020: R454 million operating loss), respectively. The previous year’s operating loss was due to pandemic-related impacts and two lossmaking projects that are now completed. The platform was successful in securing a large and quality order book of R37,0 billion (FY2020: R34,4 billion). Near orders were increased marginally to R1,1 billion (FY2020: R1,0 billion).
The order book reflects the platform’s thriving target markets, with Australia continuing to invest in resources and infrastructure development. The North American market remains somewhat tentative, and the platform is pursuing a strategy that will diversify its service offering to mirror the expansion of its Australian operations.
During the year under review, the platform secured the following significant project awards:
The order book has reached a historic high, with significant levels of revenue secured for FY2022 and FY2023 and a strong pipeline of project opportunities, supporting the expectation of strong earnings growth from this platform over at least the next three years.
|Revenue||4 139||1 357||468||288||6 758||5 231||11 365||6 876|
|Order book||5 210||10 949||248||324||31 592||23 188||37 050||34 461|
The platform has done well to grow its order book and to protect it from deterioration due to the significant impact of the pandemic. The order book is strong, and the near-term project pipeline is robust and growing.
|Revenue||3 442||3 210||2 768||3 628||3 326||5 134||9 536||11 972|
|Order book||11 845||12 888||4 349||3 024||7 024||3 483||23 218||19 395|
Revenue and operating profit decreased to R9,5 billion (FY2020: R12,0 billion) and R473 million (FY2020: R630 million), respectively. The decrease is due to the Americas having experienced a prolonged period of disruption due to the pandemic, which led to high levels of commodity uncertainty and flagged investment decisions by the mining companies. The order book increased to R23,2 billion (FY2020: R19,4 billion) and near orders were marginally lower at R9,7 billion (FY2020: R10,4 billion).
Recovery of the world economy, fuelled by stimulus programmes of major governments, has resulted in significantly increased demand for commodities. Commodity prices have risen markedly over the past year and are projected to continue their upward trends. Several Investment Banks recently forecast a recovery in commodity prices and the beginning of a much longer structural bull market. A super cycle of commodities that support efforts to decarbonise the economies of the world seems highly likely.
The platform is very well positioned in the global underground mining market and is anticipating further order book growth, especially in the Americas. The Group is expecting accelerated organic growth in the medium term and given its high share of regional markets, the platform will continue to pursue acquisitions that will diversify its earnings growth.
During the year under review, the platform secured the following significant project awards:
The forecast for increased capital investment in the mining industry is encouraging, providing support for expected accelerated earnings growth for the platform, especially as from FY2023.
This sub-Saharan focused platform continues to face significant challenges to its viability and profitability and is focused on creating a sustainable base over the next three years, delivering an acceptable return on investment for the Group.
|Revenue||465||1 052||27||11||145||312||341||612||–||–||978||1 987|
Revenue decreased to R1,0 billion (FY2020: R2,0 billion) and the platform recorded an operating loss of R175 million (FY2020: R44 million operating loss). The order book increased marginally to R0,5 billion (FY2020: R0,4 billion) and near orders are at R0,3 billion (FY2020: Nil). The increased loss is due to the platform’s low revenue base relative to its overhead costs, exacerbated by the completion of several lossmaking projects, largely due to pandemic impacts. No projects of any significant value were secured during the period.
The platform continues to perform routine, small-scale maintenance and outage works at Medupi and Kusile with ongoing and repeat work packages being awarded. Several transmission tenders invited by Eskom are currently under adjudication and it is expected that its division, OptiPower Projects, will secure some of these projects in the short term.
Wade Walker Solar was mandated to pursue industrial photovoltaic opportunities up to 10MW in scale and operations commenced in December 2020. This business has secured its first projects, albeit at a small scale. With the increase in the self-generation limit from 1MW to 100MW, the platform is likely to see more prospects in the renewable energy sector and has entered cooperation arrangements with technology owners to pursue these opportunities.
Investment in the South African water sector continues to be limited. Murray & Roberts Water is relocating its Organica wastewater treatment plant from eThekwini to the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town to supply water on a 10-year contract. This is a significant breakthrough as it will be the first commercialised application of the Organica technology in South Africa.
The uncertain timing of potential project awards necessitated a further reduction of overhead costs in anticipation of lower revenue. The restructuring was undertaken without compromising the platform’s capacity to pursue our strategic objectives and respond to prospects as and when they present in its target markets.
The uncertain timing of potential project awards necessitated a further reduction of overhead costs in anticipation of lower revenue. The restructuring was undertaken without compromising the platform's capacity to pursue our strategic objectives and respond to prospects as and when they present in its target markets.
The Bombela Concession Company (“BCC”) operates the Gautrain system which is running with capacity restrictions and at all-time low ridership levels. Passenger demand is expected to remain subdued until the spread of the pandemic is curtailed. Current ridership is circa 10 500 passengers per day, compared to circa 55 000 passengers per day prior to COVID-19.
The initial estimated impact of the pandemic on the Group’s 50% investment in BCC was accounted for in FY2020. BCC was successful with its business interruption insurance claim, capped at R285 million and the funds upon receipt were used to reduce BCC’s debt. The potential prolonged impact of the pandemic on this investment is assessed on an ongoing basis.
A fair value adjustment profit of R209 million was reported for the period (FY2020: R119 million).
The Group recorded an operating loss from discontinued operations of R256 million (FY2020: R19 million profit), of which circa R120 million comprised a cash loss. The prior year included substantial exchange rate gains, whilst the current year losses were due to:
The accounting for discontinued operations over the past five years has resulted in substantial positive and negative impacts on Group results, as demonstrated by the large negative impact on the current year’s results. Following the close out of the Infrastructure & Building business’ retained assets and liabilities and pending the proposed sale of the two companies in the Middle East, discontinued costs are expected to reduce significantly as from FY2023, to only reflect cost associated with the management of the remaining potential contingent liabilities in the Middle East. During FY2022, however, a negative foreign currency translation reserve (“FCTR”) adjustment of circa R250 million (based on the exchange rate as at 30 June 2021) will be accounted for as part of discontinued operations, subject to the conclusion of the proposed sale of the two companies in the Middle East. This FCTR adjustment is a non-cash item that will not impact the Group’s equity nor its net asset value.
The Group’s uncertified revenue increased to R1,3 billion (FY2020: R1,1 billion). The Group remains confident that revenue recognised as uncertified will be certified and paid once attendant commercial matters have been resolved.
The Group’s lost-time injury frequency rate was maintained at 0.90 (FY2020: 0.88). This safety performance compares to the best in the world in relevant market sectors, although we have reached a plateau in improvement on our path to Zero Harm. The Group remains focused on ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of our employees.
The Board deeply regrets the passing of Mr Wilfred Moleofi, who sustained fatal injuries in July 2020 whilst performing his duties as an employee of OptiPower Projects. The Board again offers its deepest sympathies to his family and friends.
The pandemic has devastated lives and economies around the world and has significantly impacted Murray & Roberts. To date, the Group has reported 1 120 employees who were infected with COVID-19, where 98% have recovered. Regrettably, 12 employees lost their lives due to COVID-19 related complications. The Group offers its deepest condolences to the members of their families and friends who were affected by their tragic losses.
The global vaccination campaign has marked a significant turning point in the battle against COVID-19. Murray & Roberts and its clients facilitate access to the vaccine and continues to encourage and educate employees on the benefits of being fully vaccinated.
Support is provided to employees to assist them in dealing with the mental and emotional impacts of the pandemic. All related preventative measures and government restrictions are adhered to in order to keep our employees safe.
To give effect to the efficient and smooth management of the Murray & Roberts Group, financial assistance in the form of loans, cross guarantees, suretyships, and the subordination of loans are provided among Group companies on an on-going basis.
At the Company’s annual general meetings over the past years, Shareholders approved and passed special resolutions in terms of Section 45 of the Act which authorises the granting of the financial assistance.
Accordingly, this serves as written notice that the Board has passed resolutions approving the provision by the Company of direct and indirect financial assistance to, among others, its subsidiaries and other related or inter-related companies, as contemplated and in accordance with, inter alia, Sections 4 and 45 of the Act.
Shareholders are advised that this notice is provided for compliance purposes only and no response is required hereto.
There were no changes to the Board during the period under review. The employment contract of the Group Chief Executive, Henry Laas, was extended to 31 August 2024.
The Group is on the cusp of a multi-year period of strong earnings growth, considering its return to profitability for continuing operations, its strong order book of R60,7 billion and the growing demand for its services.
Over the next three years, the Group expects most of its revenue to be derived from its two international business platforms, which have established credible positions in regions and sectors with sustainable growth prospects.
The Group is confident that it has the leadership, financial and resource capacity to deliver on its aspirations.
Any forward-looking information contained in this announcement has not been reviewed and reported on by the Group's external auditors.
On behalf of the directors:
Chairman of the Board
Group Chief Executive
Group Financial Director
1 September 2021