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Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
2022 was a year in which we were preoccupied with various developments that were not within our immediate sphere of influence, first and foremost the war against Ukraine. The human suffering this war is causing takes precedence over all economic interests. For this reason, we ensured back in March that until further notice none of our products would be supplied to Russia or Belarus and no raw materials would be sourced from these countries, even in cases where this would have been legal under the sanctions adopted. In addition, we donated a quarter of a million euros to UN refugee aid at the beginning of the year.
2022 was also marked by dramatically increased raw material and energy prices and a significant decline in sales volumes due to the subdued mood on the markets.
Under these conditions, we were not able to achieve the strong sales volume and earnings of the previous year. But despite this very challenging and volatile environment, we succeeded in generating sales exceeding three billion euros for the first time and closed the fiscal year with significant sales growth overall compared with 2021.
The past year once again underlined two admirable characteristics of the entire ALTANA team: Our company is extremely resilient even in very turbulent times – primarily due to our financial and innovative strength as well as our largely decentralized and thus flexible and customer-oriented setup. And secondly, we not only react to external influencing factors, but actively make important contributions to meeting the great challenges of our time, chief among them climate change.
We are continuing to push forward our program to make ALTANA a climate-neutral and in the long term carbon-free company. As a result, we are living up to our responsibility and our climate protection aspirations in keeping with the UN Global Compact initiative for responsible and sustainable corporate management. Our sites around the world made considerable progress in this regard last year. In November 2022, for example, BYK in Shanghai began operating a 2,000 square meter solar plant.
An important example of our ability to act at present is the natural gas independence of our sites in continental Europe. Together with our local employees, we have converted our energy supply in such a way that, if need be, we could continue to produce without natural gas, although the further impact of the war against Ukraine on the energy and raw material markets and on demand cannot be reliably estimated.
We are shaping our future and that of our environment, now more than ever, by continuing to invest in new technologies and digitization in a targeted and determined manner. For example, we acquired a stake in the technology startup Saralon in December 2022. The company specializes in the development of inks for printed electronics, which can already be used to print batteries, for example. In line with our corporate venturing strategy, we support up-and-coming startups not only financially, but also with our expertise – in this case, due to our ELANTAS division’s many years of market experience. At the same time, we at ALTANA benefit from the young company’s startup mentality.
In 2022, a team at ACTEGA, among others, showed what can emerge from a vibrant spirit of research and entrepreneurship when it received the ALTANA Innovation Award for its ROTARflow invention. This solution, which is unique in the market, improves efficiency in the production of cans for preserved foods and beverages and enhances sustainability using modern digitization technologies.
In an increasingly complex world, it is particularly important to set the right priorities. What these will be in the coming years is delineated in the new edition of our Keep Changing Agenda which – like ALTANA itself – has been constantly evolving since 2016. Sustainability in all its dimensions plays a key role here, as do the people at ALTANA who bring the mix of continuity and change typical of our company to life and make it a success.
For us on ALTANA’s Management Board, 2023 also began with changes. After more than 20 years of close and successful cooperation, Dr. Christoph Schlünken began his well-deserved retirement at the end of 2022. He very successfully helped shape and hallmark ALTANA’s growth and corporate culture. For these achievements, we would like to take this opportunity to express our great appreciation and gratitude to Dr. Schlünken. Dr. Tammo Boinowitz took over Dr. Schlünken’s responsibilities at the beginning of this year. As the Management Board team, we look forward to working together in the new constellation.
In addition to the people who work in the ALTANA Group, it is primarily the dialog with our external stakeholders that is fundamental for our sustainable success. The past year has once again shown us all how important values such as trust, respect, and tolerance are. For ALTANA, they have long been the foundation of our work. Whether it is the close cooperation with our customers, which with the necessary pinch of courage spawns groundbreaking innovations, the joint struggle for sustainable solutions with our suppliers, or the intensive exchange with up-and-coming new talents – we are convinced that only together can we meet the diverse challenges of our time. That is the reason why we significantly intensified the dialog with our stakeholders in 2022 and sought their opinions on the materiality of various sustainability issues in a comprehensive expert survey. Excerpts from these discussions can be found in the magazine section of this report. We would like to thank all the experts who not only shared their views with us, but also our ambition to bring about sustainable change.
We would like to express our sincere thanks to our employees for their extraordinarily high level of commitment and their personal contribution in 2022. Our thanks also go to our customers and business partners as well as to the members of the Supervisory Board for their constructive support and their trust in ALTANA’s work.
Dr. Tammo Boinowitz