Letter from the Management Board
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
2015 was a year in which ALTANA once again demonstrated its flexibility and ability to change.
In a challenging environment, our business, adjusted for acquisition and exchange-rate effects, declined slightly due to unexpectedly sluggish demand. Nevertheless we were able to increase our nominal sales once again, primarily thanks to positive currency effects, thus achieving sales of more than € 2 billion for the first time.
ALTANA remains very well positioned for further profitable growth. We paved the way in 2015.
The generation change at the helm of ALTANA initiated in 2015 reflects both our company’s sustainable development and its ability to change. Since August of last year, Stefan Genten has reinforced ALTANA’s Management Board as the new CFO, succeeding Martin Babilas, who became the Chairman of the Management Board at the beginning of January 2016, replacing Dr. Matthias L. Wolfgruber. With this move, doubtlessly an era came to an end, since Dr. Wolfgruber, who went into retirement at the end of 2015, had a significant influence on ALTANA. In the last 13-plus years during which he headed our chemical business, our company developed very successfully while continually undergoing change. At this juncture, we would like to express our great appreciation and gratitude to Dr. Wolfgruber.
ALTANA is in a strong position because we have continually changed yet at the same time remained true to ourselves. The 2015 fiscal year saw many examples of this.
Since its acquisition of Rockwood’s rheology business, BYK has not only invested in the new sites, but also adapted its organization and processes in many areas to its increased size and global requirements. Thus, the organizational and cultural integration of the business acquired in the fall of 2013 is nearly completed. Dr. Stephan Glander became the new Division President of BYK in July 2015. He is now in charge of a newly positioned and significantly strengthened organization.
At ELANTAS, the Italian sites Ascoli Piceno, Collecchio, and Quattordio were combined with the German company in Hamburg to form one organizational unit with joint functional areas at the turn of the year. Hence ELANTAS, too, is growing together in an effort to achieve even greater efficiency, primarily in Europe. At the same time, a cross-divisional research center for the promising printed electronics market was established in Hamburg.
In 2015, ECKART made one of its largest single investments at its home location in Hartenstein near Nuremberg by building a dry grinding unit. With the facility, the division has boosted its capacity for manufacturing functional effect pigments used to produce aerated concrete to become more independent from changing color trends. In the last fiscal year, ECKART also created the basis for becoming a significantly leaner and less complex organization. As a result, the division has established the prerequisites for future growth.
ACTEGA, too, will make its expertise available to its customers better and in a more targeted way due to an organizational realignment toward global market segments. With the new and agile positioning, in the future the division will be able to optimally unfold its strengths and exploit synergy potential between the individual companies. Thus, ACTEGA can now become even more productive and innovative.
In addition to its ability to transform, strong investments in the future remain an important success factor for ALTANA. That’s why in 2015 we once again invested an above-average amount – six percent – of our sales in research and development worldwide. Additionally, in August we ensured ourselves headroom for further growth, including through acquisitions, by extending a syndicated line of credit amounting to € 250 million, which can be increased at any time. Due to ALTANA’s solid financial situation, the credit facility agreement contains provisions easing documentation obligations and covenants significantly. At the same time, even as a private company we continue to fulfill our aspiration of increasing debt only to an extent that would be adequate for the requirements of an investment grade rating.
All of these examples illustrate once again that ALTANA’s vision to be leading in everything we do is not lip service, but continually provides incentive for us to achieve the best solutions. We have no doubt that with the changes we have ushered in we will continue on our growth path. However, sophisticated concepts are not the only decisive factor. It is the people at ALTANA who play the key role, as they not only implement the changes but also help shape them and experience them as a personal challenge and personal enrichment.
In the magazine section of this annual report, we have portrayed some of these people from various areas of ALTANA. Whether “straightforward yet versatile,” “steady yet flexible,” “constant yet innovative,” “traditional yet multifaceted,” or “accustomed yet new,” they all have one thing in common: they change perspectives, are continually looking for improvement possibilities or completely new solutions, and as a result create critical added value for our customers together: innovation, market proximity, quality, and service as fixed constants in all areas of ALTANA.
We would like to warmly thank our employees for their contribution to our success and to ALTANA’s development in 2015. Thanks are also due to the members of the Supervisory Board for their constructive accompaniment, their support, and their trust in the work of ALTANA.
Martin Babilas Stefan Genten Dr. Christoph Schlünken