Moscow – The Board of Directors of PhosAgro, one of the world's leading producers of phosphate-based fertilizers, heard a report by Andrey Guryev on the results of his work as CEO of the Company over the past six years and about the Company’s medium-term plans. Members of the Board of Directors noted the Company’s significant progress in all major areas of activity.
Summing up his six years as the CEO of PhosAgro, Andrey Guryev noted that:
- PhosAgro’s production volumes have grown more than 1.6 times, from 5.9 million in 2013 to 9.4-9.5 million tonnes expected in 2019;
- The EBITDA margin increased from 23% in 2013 to 32% in 2018, and the Company consistently generates profit and high profitability levels;
- PhosAgro’s EBITDA over the same period increased from RUB 23.9 billion in 2013 to RUB 74.9 billion last year;
- An even more significant result is the more than 300% increase in dividends paid compared to the 2013 level.
- Andrey Guryev also emphasised progress in its social and environmental performance:
- The Company invests over RUB 2.5 billion every year into social programmes. In 2018 PhosAgro spent over RUB 8 billion on environmental protection projects and currently operates some of the most advanced purification equipment in the industry;
- PhosAgro’s new strategy to 2025 prioritises sustainable development and adherence to high standards in the social sphere, environmental performance, corporate governance;
- The Company created the Sustainability Committee of the Board of Directors, which just held its first meeting. Former UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova chairs the Committee;
- PhosAgro’s annual report for 2018 was prepared in accordance with GRI 4.0 standards and received external verification by the Company’s auditors.
During his report, PhosAgro CEO Andrey Guryev said: “PhosAgro has consistently delivered solid operational and financial results thanks to the well-coordinated work of the entire team, including the miners of Kirovsk, chemists in Cherepovets, Balakovo and Volkhov, and management. Thanks to active work on the international stage, we are successfully seeking to strengthen our reputation, increase brand recognition, and succeed in promoting our products globally. As a result of all these efforts, we receive both external recognition and, even more importantly, the recognition and loyalty of our team.
“The unique corporate standards for fertilizer purity, which exceed even the most stringent international requirements by a large margin, help to guarantee growing demand for PhosAgro fertilizers for many years into the future. This enables us to set and achieve ambitious goals, implement large-scale investment programmes and long-term development strategies, generate stable cash flows, pay balanced dividends and implement new investment, social and charitable projects, without increasing our debt levels.”
In 2019, PhosAgro production volumes continue to grow, with mineral fertilizer and feed phosphate output up by 3.4% year-on-year in the 1H 2019. This was achieved thanks to the implementation of investment projects, the most significant of which is the programme for increasing the capacities of the phosphates complex in Cherepovets (the main facilities were put into operation at the end of 2018), as well as business process optimisation at all production sites aimed at removing bottlenecks, improving production discipline and operational efficiency.
PhosAgro’s production Kirovsk site has achieved an impressive 160% increase in labour productivity since 2013, while other production facilities achieved a 170% rise. Company-wide, labour productivity is growing at a pace of around 27% annually.
This year, the Company plans to commission a new sulphuric acid line with a capacity of 1.2 million tonnes per year and an ammonium sulphate production plant with a capacity of 300 ths tonnes per year at its Cherepovets site, which will make PhosAgro nearly fully self-sufficient in these key inputs. In addition, a new nitric acid line, which will enable PhosAgro to increase ammonium nitrate production by over 170 ths tonnes per year and take advantage of consistently high demand for this product in the domestic market.
Xavier Rolet, Chairman of the Board of Directors of PhosAgro, said: “I have known Andrey Guryev and PhosAgro since before I joined the Board of Directors. Andrey’s appointment as CEO marked the start of an impressive period of growth and development during which the Company invested over 50% of its EBITDA into major strategic projects, continued to refine its governance practices and adopted changes to its dividend policy to make PhosAgro even more attractive to global investors.
“Central to its strategy is the sustainability and environmentally-friendly nature of its production, underpinned by its unique line of cadmium-free phosphate-based products. The Company's major commitment to employee safety, welfare and education is also well known and has made it a global leader in its industry.
“Under Andrey’s leadership, PhosAgro has also put in place an impressive programme of active cooperation with numerous international organisations to further support the cause of environmentally-friendly fertilizer production, technological innovation and education to sustainably feed a world population estimated by the UN to reach 10.5 billion by the end of this century.
“I am pleased to express the Board’s continued confidence and total support for Andrey and his world-class management team as the Company takes its rightful place as the undisputed global industry leader in the years to come.”
“PhosAgro’s commitment to the principles of sustainable development and the UN Global Compact represent the ambitions of a truly global company and we take this work very seriously. PhosAgro contributes to the achievement of 10 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN, but PhosAgro's main contribution to global sustainable development is to help ensure food security in more than 100 countries of the world where the Company’s products are used. PhosAgro fertilizers do not contain toxic impurities, meaning they are safe for human health and they do not harm the soil. This is especially important, since 52% of the Earth’s soil resources are already subject to degradation. Given the growing global concern over the purity of fertilizers, the importance of PhosAgro’s contribution to sustainable development will only increase,” said Irina Bokova, Chair of the Committee for Sustainable Development of the PhosAgro Board of Directors.
Taking into account PhosAgro’s stable cash flows and positive financial performance dynamics, the Company’s management presented options for a new dividend policy. The Board of Directors decided to further analyse with the intention of giving final approval at a meeting on 24 September 2019, immediately before PhosAgro’s Capital Markets Day, where the Company’s strategy to 2025 will be presented.
The Board of Directors also recommended that the Extraordinary General Meeting of Shareholders (“EGM”) approve a dividend payment of RUB 6.993 billion, or RUB 54 per ordinary share (RUB 18 per Global Depositary Receipt) from retained earnings as of 31 December 2018. This recommendation was made based on the results of the Board’s discussion of the Company’s financial results for 1H 2019, including the interim consolidated IFRS financial statements, which are scheduled to be disclosed tomorrow, 28 August 2019.
The EGM will be held by absentee ballot on 4 October 2019 and the record date for shareholders eligible to participate has been set as 9 September 2019. The Board has recommended that the shareholders meeting set 15 October 2019 as the record date for dividends.
The Board of Directors also confirmed that its Independent Directors meet the criteria of independence, as defined by PhosAgro’s bylaws for the Board of Directors, the Corporate Governance Code recommended by the Central Bank of Russia for joint stock companies and the Moscow Exchange listing Rules. The Board also set the payment for RAS audit services and considered or reviewed other issues on the agenda.