– “We stand strong”, says confident MD Lars Richter
Chairman of the Board of foremost engineering construction company, Julius Berger Nigeria PLC, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, CON has said that though the company had challenges in the 2021 financial year, it excelled and overcame the challenges by dint of hard work and unflinching commitment to success on the part of the management and staff of the company.
He spoke just as the Managing Director, Engr Dr. Lars Richter disclosed that the company stood strong in the year under review even as the company’s shareholders approved a N2.50k per share dividends.
Speaking at the 52nd Annual General Meeting of the company Saturday in Abuja, the Chairman presented the Consolidated Financial Statements of the year under review saying that within the period, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc performed positively despite the numerous macro-economic hiccups which affected businesses during the year. He added that the company achieved exceptional financial performance, meeting targets for both revenue and cash flow. “One for those challenges, of course is COVID-19, which remains ever present in our personal and professional lives – with prolonged consequences. Unfortunately, we are unable to put this virus behind us just yet,” the Chairman said.
However, the Chairman did not mince words in declaring that, “while 2021 was certainly a challenging year, more positively, it was also a dynamic and industrious year,” adding that, “within our core construction business, we made meaningful progress across our portfolio of private and public projects”. He listed the projects to include the International Worship Centre, Uyo, the Office of the National Security Adviser in Abuja, the Bodo-Bonny Road as well as infrastructure projects in Lagos state and in Rivers state, where Julius Berger have supported the State Governments to achieve a remarkable infrastructure transformation within the year.” Specifically, Dr Richter also listed some successfully commissioned major projects to include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation office, several flyovers and civil infrastructural works in Port Harcourt; and the Rehabilitated Control Towers at Tincan Island and the Lagos Port Complex.
Underscoring the shining example of the trust the federal government placed on Julius Berger, the Chairman harped on the priority projects of the government being financed via the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund at an excellent pace, Mr. Sunmonu said that the company forged ahead with all of them including the Second River Niger Bridge and the Abuja-Kano Road “ with our values, standards and capacities remaining core to our competitive edge.”
Stating that Julius Berger Nigeria Plc closed for the year under review “with a Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate of 0.19, equivalent to our 2020 results”, the Chairman added that the various subsidiaries of the Group also made reasonable progress in 2021.
Mr. Sunmonu said, “the year 2021 has been largely positive, with many great accomplishments to reflect on”, forecasting with good confidence that “…this year 2022, we will continue to work hard, remain resilient and champion progress in regard to the potentials ahead of us. Furthermore, Sunmonu also said, “We do not underestimate the effort or the endeavour it will take to achieve our vision, but we also do not underestimate our collective diligence and determination.”
In his own remarks to shareholders at the AGM, the Managing Director, Engr. Dr Lars Richter built on the Chairman’s earlier remarks saying that the three pillars of Julius Berger’s business strategy, “the core business, group subsidiaries and diversification” have remained central to all operations even as he shared an update on the company’s sustainability and inclusivity efforts, as well as on the company’s outlook for 2022 and beyond.
The Managing Director firmly declared that “Julius Berger continues to stand strong, our values are firmly in place and our reputation for reliable and quality delivery remains unmatched…. And within our core business we continue to realize meaningful progress across our portfolio of projects as a foundation for our continued success and growth.”
On the business trajectory of the company, Richter said Julius Berger continues to acquire new projects for major clients such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Lagos and Port Harcourt State, the Federal Ministry of Works & Housing and the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Richter also celebrated Julius Berger’s achievement with regard to the company’s recertification of its Quality Management in accordance with ISO 9001:2015, “…proving that our commitment to quality and process continues to stand strong.” Richter further stated that Julius Berger continues to “…bolster the foundations of its competitive edge, manpower and machine power, with the modernization of our Human Resources structure and strategy and the update and expansion of our equipment fleet; both major investments that will payback in many folds, both today and in future.” To emphasize the worthy development, Richter, cited the company’s recent operational “rollout of more equipment to support the success of the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road.”
On the performance of the company in 2021, the Managing Director said that, as a group Julius Berger has achieved an overall exceptional financial performance in 2021 ”meeting targets for both revenue and cash flow; enabling the company to extend a dividend payment to you, our loyal shareholders.”
Enumerating the specific challenges faced by the company in 2021, Dr Lars Richter listed those stemming from the indirect impacts and aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as “global procurement where prices for logistics remain elevated, shortages and delays remain a reality and as a result, prices for raw materials and goods continue to increase.”
The Ukrainian war, Engr. Richter added, compounded supply chain disruptions, with prices soaring for other essential building materials like steel, sand and wood just as it has led to increases in the price of crude oil.
“For us in Nigeria, the higher cost of diesel combined with fuel scarcity, has led to another layer of price increase… an extraordinary surge in transport costs,” he added. Dr Richter also informed shareholders that the greatest and most hard-hitting challenge the company continues to face is the sustained shortage of FOREX.
He described the forex scarcity as “…a critical crisis which has persisted with far reaching negative impact on the economy generally and on Julius Berger specifically, as it creates major and substantial financial losses.”
He, however, disclosed that management was able to put in place robust, resilient and business continuity planning; providing preparation and strategies to navigate the key risk.
Three directors including Chairman Mutiu Sunmomu, CON, Mrs Belinda Ajoke Disu, CAL, and Mrs Gadys O. Talabi were also re-elected by Shareholders to the Board of the company at the 52nd Annual General Meeting in Abuja.
The highlight of the event was when Shareholders voted overwhelmingly for a N2.50 per share dividend owned compared to the 50kobo per share paid out last financial year. This year’s dividend payout is the highest shareholders are receiving in the last five years.
Happy Shareholders overwhelmingly commended the company’s management for excellent performance.