Despite the positive long-term growth prospects for our markets they can be – certainly in the short and medium term – negatively impacted by factors outside our control. Such factors include for example general or regional geopolitical developments, such as energy policies, political unrest, piracy, government-imposed trade barriers and volatility in the energy and commodities markets. In recent years, in particular the latter has strongly manifested itself in terms of substantially lower energy and other commodity prices, which has impacted activity levels in particular in the oil and gas sector, as well as in countries which are dependent on this sector for income.
Boskalis aims to respond as effectively as possible to both positive and negative developments in individual markets, through a global spread of its activities, an extensive and versatile fleet operating out of various international locations, and strong positions in its core markets. Moreover, our activities are largely focused on the development, construction, installation and maintenance of infrastructure, which means that longer-term developments will generally outweigh short-term economic fluctuations.
Contracts are not included in our order book until agreement has been reached with the client. Although experience shows that once agreement has been reached, cancellations, postponements or substantial reductions in the scope or size of contracts are quite rare, they do occur, certainly in markets that are under severe pressure. Consequently, if such a cancellation or substantial reduction occurs, losses may arise from the unwinding or settlement of financial derivatives which were taken out to hedge related currency risks and/or fuel price risks, but for which the underlying transaction or cash flows will no longer be realized.
Boskalis deals with a variety of competitors in the various markets and submarkets in which it operates. Such competitors vary from large, internationally operating companies to more regional and local companies.
A large part of our revenue is derived from contracts awarded through public or private tender procedures, with competition often being predominately price-based. However, other factors – such as the assurance of adequate safety, social and environmental practices as well as the financial resilience of the contractor – are also regularly taken into consideration when awarding contracts. Proper decision-making processes have been put in place for the submission of tenders to ensure that the risks associated with the execution of a particular project are systematically identified and assessed.
Almost all Boskalis’ activities are capital-intensive. This applies in particular to Dredging and the Transport & Services activities within Offshore Energy and means that prices in these sectors are largely influenced by the utilization rate of the relevant equipment at a given time. This implies that a broad international presence along with a leadership position in terms of type and quality of equipment and cost competitiveness are key success factors.
Boskalis places a great deal of emphasis on these, both as a critical point of attention in operational management and in its capital allocation decisions. As a consequence, individual investment proposals are subjected to a thorough evaluation and approval process. In the course of executing its strategy, Boskalis also regularly acquires companies. To achieve the anticipated results, Boskalis attaches great importance to integrating such acquisitions with care. Creating value for our stakeholders and retaining key personnel are important elements in this process.