The Wallenius Wilhelmsen group has a sound level of equity tailored to its objectives, strategy, and risk profile. As of 31 December 2019, the total equity amounted to USD 2 921 million, corresponding to 37.5%, down from 38.8% at the end of 2018. Underlying solidity strengthened, as the introduction of IFRS 16 had a negative effect on the equity ratio. The liquidity position is good, with cash and cash equivalents of USD 398 million and USD 377 million in undrawn credit facilities at year end. The group had net interest-bearing debt of USD 3 646 million at the end of 2019. Outstanding bonds were USD 312 million with the remainder consisting of bank loans, export credit facilities and leasing commitments. The group was in compliance with all loan covenants at year-end 2019.
The Board of Directors believes the capital structure of the Wallenius Wilhelmsen group is appropriate to the Company’s objectives, strategies, and risk profile.
The Board of Directors has adopted the following dividend policy:
Wallenius Wilhelmsen ASA’s objective is to provide shareholders with a competitive return over time through a combination of rising value for the shares and dividend payments to the shareholders. The board targets a dividend which over time shall constitute between 30% and 50% of the Company’s profit after tax. When deciding the size of the dividend, the board will consider future capital requirements to ensure the implementation of its growth strategy as well as the need to ensure the group’s financial standing remains warrantable at all times. Dividends will be declared in USD and paid out semi-annually.
Dividend for the financial year 2018
Ordinary dividend for 2018 of USD 6 cent per share, in total USD 25 million, was paid to the shareholders in May 2019. The Annual General Meeting also gave the board authority to pay a second dividend payment of up to USD 6 cents per share for a period limited in time up to the Annual General Meeting in 2020, but no longer than to 30 June 2020. In November 2019, the board approved an additional dividend of USD 6 cent per share, in total USD 25 million. In total, the dividend for financial year 2018 amounted to USD 51 million.
Dividend for the financial year 2019
Given the unpredictable situation for the global economy as the impact of COVID-19 continue to evolve, the Wallenius Wilhelmsen Board of Directors has decided to withdraw their proposed dividend for 2019. In connection with the publication of fourth quarter and annual results on 22 February this year, the board proposed an ordinary dividend of 7 cents per share to the Annual General Meeting in April 2020. The board also proposed that the Annual General Meeting give the board authority to approve a second dividend payment of up to USD 7 cents per share for a period limited in time up to the annual general meeting in 2021, but no longer than to 30 June 2021. The board has now decided to withdraw this proposal, which in total would have been equivalent to about USD 60 million.
Authorisations to the Board of Directors
At the AGM in 2019, the Board of Directors was granted an authorisation to acquire own shares, with a total nominal value of up to NOK 22 001 456, which equals 10% of the current share capital. The authorisation can only be used in connection with the Company’s long-term incentive scheme for the executive management.
The authorisation is valid until the AGM in 2020 but will last no longer than 30 June 2020.
Furthermore, at the AGM in 2019, the Board of Directors was also granted an authorisation to increase the share capital by up to NOK 22 001 456, representing 10% of the issued share capital. The authorisation can be used in connection with acquisitions in return for shares and for general corporate purposes. The authorisation is valid until the AGM in 2020, but no longer than 30 June 2020.
Deviations from the Code: The authorisation to the Board of Directors to increase the share capital covers more than one purpose. The Board of Directors believes this gives it flexibility to increase the share capital by up to 10% for several reasons – either in connection with acquisitions, for general corporate purposes, or a combination of the two, depending on the specific needs of the Company.