The 2023 edition of the Julius Berger Group Investors Forum held recently via zoom with stakeholders and shareholders satisfied with the growth trajectory of the leading engineering construction company.
While providing participants at the forum with an update on Julius Berger’s business performance, strategy and operations in the 2023, as well as speaking to the outlook for the business of the company, the Managing Director, Engr Dr Lars Richter confidently said: “The company is transiting to a conglomerate by continually driving growth across our core businesses and our subsidiaries, through which we deliver value-added services along the entire value chain of the construction industry.”
According to Richter, “…our core business, which is our first pillar, continues to achieve stable growth and upholds our standards as Nigeria’s leading and most innovative construction company. We continue to drive economic growth and expansion in the country through our infrastructure projects, as well as development of industries through our building arm.”
On the transnational expansion of the company’s business operations, the Managing Director said that “…We are expanding our value delivery to other regions of the continent, and we will continue to maintain our performance standards and drive innovation in the construction industry,” adding that, “the projects in our core business significantly contribute to economic growth and expansion, creating more efficient routes that drive trade and commerce and foster industry development.”
He said Julius Berger has a proven history of consistent performance and value delivery. Underscoring this, Richter highlighted the company’s measured expansion into a conglomerate, a development which he said, “has progressed with our diversification efforts through the launch of our cashew product, which is export market driven, coupled with growth in our subsidiaries.”
On the company’s performance within the period, the Managing Director said there was growth even as he was confident of greater performance beyond the period. Richter said, “Our top and bottom lines grew in the first half of the year, building on a very strong 2022 performance where we achieved record growth in turnover. On the back of this, we have sustained shareholder value delivery through the payments of dividends, alongside having a sound and robust governance as a key pillar of our business. We have achieved broad-based progress, notwithstanding the challenging environment, which speaks very highly of our resilience as a company.”
Stressing that Julius Berger’s over 50 years of operation has consolidated with it a reputation for renowned quality delivery in the country and beyond, creating value for its stakeholders, the Managing Director declared that the company’s strategy has been resilient, expanding its portfolio over the decades.
Continuing, the Managing Director assured all of management’s determination to ensure positive transition of the company to “a conglomerate.”
Giving an insight into the company’s planned transition into a conglomerate, Richter further revealed: “…at the heart of our conglomerate transition is our diversification pillar, which we successfully kick-started in 2020 through the cashew processing business. We expect to reap significant benefits from our diversification efforts in the medium to long-term. We have achieved notable success so far, including exporting processed cashews to the international market…. We are also looking at other sectors like healthcare, where we can create added value.”
On the Bodo-Bonny Road project and the Second River Niger Bridge, according to the MD, the company continues to make progress in constructing the first road link between Bonny Island and the mainland in River State even as he added that construction continues at a good pace on the milestone project and looks forward to the completion of the project to support the continued advancement of Bonny Island and the Niger Delta in its entirety.
On the recently completed and commissioned Second River Niger Bridge, the Managing Director described it as a key national infrastructure with immense socioeconomic benefits for the contiguous states and indeed the entire nation just as he said the Abuja Kano Road where sections thereof were recently commissioned, only the Abuja to Kaduna section is yet to be completed because of banditry on that section of the busy highway all through last year.
The Managing Director also spoke of other projects such as building projects in Lagos, the iconic architectural edifice, the worship centre in Uyo, contributions to the gas and oil business with Julius Berger’s unique construction expertise, as well as the company’s highly effective facility management works by which the company contributes as well to maintenance and refurbishment especially in Lagos and in Abuja.
For Julius Berger’s subsidiaries, Richter said, remarkable progress and development are being made even as he said that the company plans to sustain the trajectory through the continued provision of exceptional service and products to its clientele and the introduction of new products and services to the market.
On Julius Berger’s sustainability and governance policy, Richter said sustainability is embedded in the company’s business, adding that sustainable business is the best business.
“We constantly assess the impact of our operations and actively generate shared value for our company, employees, communities, and in the region where we operate. We support and have embodied within our processes the 15 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We also prioritise environmental sustainability and have mechanisms in place that monitor emissions and manage waste,” he further said.
On the company’s corporate governence policy, Richter said: “We have an effective enterprise risk management process, adhere to reporting standards and regulations and consistently engage with all our stakeholders. We also recently established a board strategy committee to place strategy at the heart of our sustainability and resilience. Our board recognises the importance of sustainability for long-term value creation.”
Speaking on the community engagement policy of the company, the Managing Director said: “We also maintain a robust Corporate Social Responsibility operation through various initiatives that focus on community welfare, employee development, diversity, and inclusion amongst other social initiatives. Some of our CSR initiatives include the provision of classroom buildings and school furniture as well as scholarships to students in construction-related departments across Nigeria’s universities.
The MD added that, Julius Berger also has a food and medical donation policy during critical emergencies in the company’s operational sites and regions.
Speaking on the financial highlights of the company within the period to provide additional information to participants at the Forum, Director of Finance, Christian Hausemann said due to management’s rigorous cost management, gross profit, operating profit, and pre-tax margins have improved compared to 2022, despite the local and global inflation environment.
Hausemann said, both of the company’s assets and equity “have recorded very positive trends.”
Hausemann added that the company invested in property, plant, and equipment to support its growth and diversification strategy.
“The upward trend in return on equity continued and is recorded at an annualised rate of 15.8% as of June, which demonstrates JBN’s ability to create value for its shareholders,” he said.
Saying “We are on the right track”, the Financial Director, Hausemann further added that the company’s return on assets which was negatively affected in 2020 rebounded positively from 2021 to 2023, reflecting a sustained upward trend in Julius Berger’s business activity.
At the Questions and Answers session, both Richter, the Managing Director, and Hausemann, the Financial Director, cleared any doubts whatsoever coming from shareholders amidst pledges to deliver greater dividends by year ending and going forward.
Representatives of Julius Berger at the Investors Forum were: Managing Director, Lars Richter, Director, Administration, Zubairu Bayi, Director Corporate Development, Tobias Meletschus, Company Secretary, Mrs Cecilia Mahueke, Finance Manager, Miss Joy Isen and Chief Risk Officer, Mrs Shakira Mustapha, with shareholders, including Oluwatosin Kalejaiye and Dele Akande actively participating.