Ladies and Gentlemen:
In an economically positive environment, voestalpine’s business year 2021/22 was adversely affected by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the outbreak of the war in Ukraine and thus was defined by highs and lows alike. Strong economic rebounds, hampered in just a few industrial sectors by supply chain issues, followed on the heels of the hard lockdowns in many parts of the world. Russia’s attack on Ukraine dramatically changed the picture. Sentiment dampened considerably worldwide, and the steep increases in energy prices toward the end of the reporting period’s third quarter developed into a real price shock, given the fallout from the war.
In the business year ended, voestalpine proved its great flexibility and adaptability yet again. While maintaining our laser focus on measures to boost efficiency, we were able to exploit the positive economic environment as best we could. Demand for our high-quality products developed along extremely robust trajectories in almost all market and product segments. We succeeded in securing our operations through suitably adjusted measures within a very short time of the war’s outbreak.
COVID-19 challenged us yet again during the business year ended and will continue to preoccupy us in the future. But our enhanced safety and hygiene measures helped to overcome the pandemic. In any case, the health of our employees always has the highest priority.
voestalpine posted record results for the business year 2021/22 despite this extremely challenging environment. All key performance indicators (KPIs)—revenue, EBITDA, EBIT, and equity—stand at all-time highs. Given these results, the Management Board proposes to pay a dividend of EUR 1.20 per share for the business year 2021/22. Our success would not have been possible without our employees’ commitment and above-average performance. We want to take this moment to express our thanks to them.
The record results for the business year ended underscore the strength of both the Group’s strategic alignment and its capabilities. As before, we will focus on high-tech segments that deliver highest quality standards and develop innovative solutions in collaboration with our customers with the aim of driving the company’s value-added growth. Climate and environmental action are yet another focal point of the Group’s strategy.
We are committed to the global climate goals, and our greentec steel program is an ambitious step-by-step plan for green steelmaking. We seek to achieve carbon (CO2) neutral steel production by 2050 based on green hydrogen. We are already conducting intensive research on highly promising breakthrough technologies. We plan to replace the existing blast furnace route at our steel plants in Linz and Donawitz (both Austria) in part with a hybrid electric arc furnace as early as in 2027—an important intermediate step toward emissions-neutral steelmaking. In and of itself, this retooling would enable us to significantly cut carbon dioxide emissions from 2027 by some 30%.
We also developed strategic options for our direct reduction plant in Texas, USA, as part of our evolving decarbonization plans. In early April, we announced that we had sold 80% of our equity interest in the plant to ArcelorMittal, the international steel conglomerate. This partnership allows us to secure our supplies of hot briquetted iron (HBI) in the long term. Despite technological changes, our continually evolving and refined raw material concept will enable us to manufacture high-tech steel for sectors including the automotive and rail industries, now and in the future.
Strategically and technologically, voestalpine is in the best possible position to successfully meet the challenges ahead. We are starting the business year 2022/23 on a positive note thanks to our excellent financial footing and full order books. But the current, difficult environment we face also harbors risks. Both the uncertain development of the global economy on account of COVID-19 and the unpredictable fallout from the Ukraine war make it hard to offer a long-term forecast.
Finally, we want to thank Dr. Joachim Lemppenau, who for 18 years served as the Chairman of our Supervisory Board, for the respectful and constructive collaboration he always championed. Dr. Lemppenau resigned as the Chairman of the Supervisory Board at the close of the business year 2021/22. His term of office represented a particularly successful chapter in our corporate history, one that we wrote together with our employees and you, the esteemed shareholders of voestalpine AG.
Linz, May 24, 2022
The Management Board
This report is a translation of the original German-language report, which is solely valid.