Francisco Reynés, president of Naturgy, has supported this Tuesday unequivocally the plans of the Socialist Government on energy and climate. Although she has stressed that she does not have to "talk about politics" or assess the performance of the minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera Rodríguez, Reynés has stressed that "there is a plan quite consistent with the development planned in the sector." "The Energy and Climate Plan is a clear roadmap that goes by the decarbonisation guidelines and promotion of renewable energy and will be more or less the same regardless of who is in the Government," he added.
At a press conference before the shareholders meeting held by the company in Madrid on Tuesday, Reynés insisted that the Spanish system can meet all the objectives set in the energy transition, despite the fact that the plan approved by the current government The normative framework is lacking to make a definitive assessment. However, he stressed that the Closing program for coal and nuclear plants it is "ordered" to carry out the substitution by renewables and any problem that may arise can be solved by the combined cycles fed by natural gas. "Combined cycles and LNG [gas natural licuado] they will ensure back-up of the system and reassure a lot, "he remarked.
On the dismantling of coal plants, he said that depends on the permits of the Administration. Naturgy plans to close Meirama, in Galicia; Narcea, in Asturias, and La Robla, in León, and its closure is scheduled for before July 2020. The one in Anllares (León) is already closed and awaiting dismantling. For its part, it participates in the Almaraz Nuclear 1 and 2 and Trillo with 13.5% and 34.5%, respectively. The nuclear, according to the Government's plan, they have scheduled the closure from 2025.
Reynés, meanwhile, stressed that the company will continue with its strategic plan 2018-2022, which this year provides for investments of 2,000 million euros. Of these, 65% will go to growth projects and increase electrification. Most of the investment goes to Spain, although the entity plans to boost its presence in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Panama. In that sense, it does not rule out buying assets to increase its competitive presence. Reynés has stated that the strategic plan does not have inorganic growth, but admitted that despite this it is open to any operation as long as it meets minimum criteria of objectivity. "At the moment, there is nothing," he said.
The investment represents a reduction of 321 million compared to last year. According to Reynés, the difference is due to the fact that more than 400 million correspond to methane tankers, so the comparison would be a growth of around 100 million. Last year's investments grew by 30%, mainly aimed at expanding the network and growing in renewables with the objective of multiplying its assets by three in line with the guidelines of the country and EU energy and climate plans.
Naturgy also has its sights set on North Africa, starting with Morocco, where it wants to expand its business. In addition, in Egypt it intends to reach some agreement to re-launch the Damietta reclassification plant, stopped by the Government and submitted to an international arbitration process in which the consortium formed between Naturgy and the Italian group ENI has won two of the three arbitrations. According to Reynés, "the logical thing is to reach an agreement sooner rather than later."
With regard to Algeria, that lives an electoral process and of answer to its leader Buteflica, has commented that it has not foreseen any change that affects the gas supply. Algeria is key for Naturgy in that sense and the public company Sonatrach has 4% of the capital of the Spanish firm. Reynés has stressed that relations are good, but nevertheless "there is always a plan b in case problems arise and Naturgy has a good position in the world".
This is the second meeting held by Naturgy in Madrid after the change of venue the you procés independence. According to Reynés, the possibility of returning to Barcelona depends on what the shareholders decide.
In his dissertation to the shareholders, Reynes anticipated that for the current fiscal year, Naturgy expects to obtain a net profit of 1,400 million from the 1,245 million last year. This figure was affected by the accounting adjustment of 3,800 million for the deterioration of assets. The expected gross profit (EBITDA) is 4,600 million, compared to 4,413 million in 2018.
The proposal that has made to the Board is a dividend distribution of 1.30 euros per share, which supposes a complementary distribution of 0.57 euros that would be paid on March 20 if the shareholders approve it. This represents an improvement of 30% of the remuneration compared to the previous year. For the current year, it plans to increase it by 5% to reach 1.37 euros per share. Likewise, it will continue with the share repurchase program worth 400 million. Of them, it has already acquired half and expects to meet the other half before June of this year.
Last year was characterized as a year of transformation in which, in addition to the accounting adjustment, the company changed the name of Natural Gas to Naturgy, simplified the organization and launched a strategic plan in which in the first year it has reduced the debt by 10% to 13,667 million. This year the debt will increase to 15,200 million, partly due to the new accounting regulations that include the accepted commitments.