· “The Company, today, is endowed with the largest market share, and have limited competition of similar scale, quality and financial capacity….”, says Managing Director, Engr. Dr. Lars Richter
By Chimezie Godfrey
Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Nigeria’s engineering construction market leader and preferred partner for infrastructural development across the country, held its investor relations forum event.
The event which was co-anchored by the company’s managing director, Engr. Dr. Lars Richter and Financial Director, Mr Christian Hausemann, also had shareholders and investors in attendance.
According to Engr. Dr. Lars Richter, the purpose of the company’s Investor Relations Forum is to highlight Julius Berger’s “business, operations, financial highlights and key investment considerations to investors, as a compelling investment opportunity in the construction industry.”
Dr. Richter commenced proceedings at the investors’ forum with an executive summary of the company’s current profile. He confidently stated, “The Company, today, is endowed with the largest market share, limited competition of similar scale, quality and financial capacity. We have a strong brand equity, a seasoned management, an experienced and diverse Board of Directors, and a well-defined Diversification Strategy; all projecting for a strongly-rooted and positive business outlook further strengthened by a favourable operating environment…”
Julius Berger, said Dr. Richter, “is synonymous with the best quality infrastructure in Nigeria, and the company is assigned a National Scale Rating of A- with a Stable Outlook assigned a National Scale rating of A.” He emphasized the over 50 years presence and leadership of the company in the construction industry in Nigeria, during which period Julius Berger “…completed 600 building projects, completed over 20 industrial facilities and 130 infrastructure projects Nationwide.” The Company, he added, is structured along three key segments – Civil works, Building Works and Services and with 7 subsidiaries, specializing in executing complex works that require the highest level of technical expertise and Nigeria- specific knowhow. Core competencies of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, said Richter, “cover all project phases, including planning, design, engineering, construction, maintenance and operation, for infrastructure, industry and building projects.”
The Financial Director, Mr. Christian Hausemann thereafter spoke to the financial highlights saying on a healthy note that Julius Berger’s “…cash balances exceed total borrowings for most of the review period implying a negative Net Debt position.” Mr. Hausemann added that “…sustained and improving interest coverage ratios providing adequate buffer for interest expenses”
On the reason for Julius Berger’s strong and stable portfolio footing, Dr. Richter said “…the Company enjoys long standing relationships with public and private sector clients in Nigeria due to its effectiveness in executing complex building and infrastructural projects over the past 50 years and the recognition of the brand for world class quality.” Speaking further on the company’s business outlook, the Julius Berger managing director said, “Nigeria’s construction sector is set to expand, and this will support growth in civil works, building works and ancillary service. Richter added, “We expect the construction industry to be one of the key drivers of GDP growth in the near term and as such, outpace the GDP growth rate.
Two concerned shareholders, Mr. Oladele Akande Mr. Kayode later asked questions about the company’s receivables, and how the illiquidity of foreign exchange is affecting the company’s business. Both enquiries was essentially about what steps the executive management is taking to mitigate those challenges. The Financial Director responded saying that there has been growth in receivables in the period under review (2022). He added, however, that Management keeps monitoring the situation with a view to proactively mitigating any potentially negative headwinds. The managing Director, Dr. Richter added that the diversification into cashew processing and exports by the company, amongst other options, was also a strategy meant to mitigate the effects of the forex challenge to the company’s operations.
According to Dr. Richter, “In fact, we have shown by our diversification into cashew processing and exports that we (Julius Berger) can do another business besides our core construction business. Our diversification policy and initiative has contributed to the company’s revenues, even as a start-up venture.”
With regard to environmental environment issues, the Company implements health, safety and environmental (HSE) policies and procedures predicated against the principles of OSHAS 18001 and ISO 14001 and benchmarked against national and global standards, encouraging continual improvement of HSE performance. Julius Berger has a record of Lost Time-Frequency Rate of 0.19, which is less than one Lost Time Injury for every five million man-hours worked. Over 2,500 persons are trained on a wide range of HSE issues including safe tipping, hazard recognition, lifting and rigging and roadwork safety. The Company’s fleet generation takes into account, reduction of fuel consumption, exhaust emission and low-cost effective maintenance.
Proactive with its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc is a proud and founding member of NIBUCCA, the Nigerian Business Coalition Against AIDS. There is also the Julius Berger ‘Food for Our Communities’ campaign by which the company distributes food to communities in Lagos, Ogun, Kaduna, Kano, Niger, Anambra and Delta States as well as to the FCT. The company’s donations to hospitals and orphanages, as well as its educational assistance and book donation initiatives to schools, all work to forge and foster good relations to promote social and economic inclusivity by supporting community-based initiatives, local business and the local workforce.
Corporate Governance is an integral driver of Julius Berger’s stakeholder value. The Company continues to take initiative to promote and educate key personnel on significant aspects of Corporate Governance as well as the several Governance policies of the Group. Julius Berger became a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) in 2016, and the company has remained committed to supporting all 10 UNGC Principles of human rights, labour rights, the protection of the environment, and anti-corruption. The Company is rated by the Corporate Governance Rating System (CGRS), the rating system responsible for incentivizing sound corporate governance practices. Julius Berger remains committed to supporting all 10 UNGC Principles of human rights, labour rights, the protection of the environment, and anti-corruption. Julius Berger respects the rights of employees to belong to any union of their choice as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Industry Procedural Agreement.
On climate action, Julius Berger states that it is committed to actively seeking out opportunities to create shared value to enhance both current and future potentials for the company, its staff and the country. The company has a pledged alignment with the ten universal principles of the United Nations Global Compact, and is certified to construct green building solutions according to LEED standards
Looking ahead, Dr. Richter said Julius Berger plans to maintain strong shareholder value, uphold its reputation for reliability and unmatched record of success, acquire strategic construction projects for core business, and further strengthen its client mix. The company, said Richter, also intends to sustainably grow its subsidiaries and AFP furniture production, ramp up production in the newly established cashew business; and continue diversification efforts in accordance with its strategy criteria.
As the leading brand in Nigeria’s engineering construction sector, Julius Berger continues to garner significantly impressive and meritorious awards. The recent awards include the 2022 ‘The Most Reliable Engineering Construction Company’ award at the Nigeria Annual Transport Awards; ‘The 2022 Nigeria’s Most Valuable Brand in Building and Construction Services at #iambrandnigeria’s Top 50 Brands’ (which is the 7th consecutive award at the annual event); ‘The 2021 Best Customer Experience Company Award in Nigeria’ by Julius Berger AFP, the furniture production facility of the Company; and ‘The 2020 Julius Berger AFP award as Nigeria’s Furniture Company of the Year’ (4th consecutive award) at the Abuja International Housing Show Award.
On a closing note, as the event came to its end, Engr. Dr. Lars Richter thanked the many investors and participants for taking time off their tight and competing schedules to attend the 2022 Investors forum of the company. He expressed the company’s sincere appreciation to investors for their active interest in the business of Julius Berger. He assured investors and shareholders that with the statistical positive outlook for Julius Berger’s core business, its sustainable subsidiaries and active diversification policy, the company is not only well prepared for the future, but Julius Berger is indeed the new real time attraction for investors in the market.
Julius Berger commenced operations in Nigeria in 1965. The Company was, however, incorporated as a private limited liability company in 1970 and became a publicly listed entity on the Nigerian Exchange Limited in 1991.
Since its pioneer project in 1965, the construction of the Eko Bridge in Lagos, Julius Berger has played a pivotal role in the development of Nigeria’s industrial and civil infrastructure. Across Nigeria, the name Julius Berger is synonymous with the best quality infrastructure in Nigeria.