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Unison increases portfolio of subsidiaries and declares a $32.0 million profit for 2019/20

Cross arm replacement along Watchman Road, Napier

Unison Networks has delivered a strong financial performance declaring a $15.8 million final dividend for its shareholders, the Hawke’s Bay Power Consumers’ Trust. The Trust holds all the shares in Unison on behalf of consumers connected to its electricity network in Hawke's Bay.

Unison released its annual report today, which showed the Group earned $94.0 million before interest, tax, depreciation and the impact of fair value movement of its derivative financial instruments (EBITDAF).

Group net profit after tax was $32.0 million, the same result in the prior year. If extraordinary items were excluded, then the Group net profit after tax would have been $34.9 million, an increase of 3.4% on the comparative figure last year.
Unison Group Chair, Philip Hocquard, said the Board were pleased with Unison’s results and the Company had continued to make good progress towards its purpose of enabling communities to prosper.

“To deliver prosperity our network needs to be sustainable well into the future, with the capability to deliver a dynamic and flexible energy system to our consumers. One way we plan to achieve this is by growing a portfolio of subsidiaries that, in the future, can offer full solutions, not just isolated services or individual parts of the supply chain,” said Mr Hocquard.

This strategy underpinned the acquisition of RPS Switchgear this year, a well-established and successful electrical switchgear business with a high market share in New Zealand and strong global reach. Combined, the Unison Group now comprises a network distribution business (Unison Networks), a contracting business (Unison Contracting Services), a fibre optic network (UnisonFibre), a distribution transformer business (ETEL), and electrical switchgear business (RPS Switchgear).

“With many facets of the network business heavily regulated, it is the Company’s subsidiaries that provide opportunities to innovate and offer value-added niche products and services within the electricity sector and beyond,” said Unison Group Chief Executive, Ken Sutherland.

Mr Sutherland said the Company continued taking a leading role within the sector, especially in the areas of digital transformation and innovation.

“Unison has been awarded a grant from Callaghan Innovation which will allow us to expand testing of our own software design that combines machine learning and artificial intelligence to assess the condition of assets with a high level of accuracy.”

Mr Sutherland said while the business always looked for ways to improve, Unison’s Smart Network had once again performed extremely well during the year. Unison comfortably met challenging regulatory limits set by the Commerce Commission with customers on average experiencing 1.86 outages over the 12-month period and were without power for an average of 90.8 minutes during the year.

“This reinforces the positive impact Unison’s investment in a smart network is having on delivering a safe, reliable supply to customers,” Mr Sutherland said.

“Being able to manage the network in real time ensures that we can deploy crews faster than ever before to restore power and to minimise the impact on customers. On those occasions where there have been power outages, we offer thanks to our customers for their patience and resilience,” said Mr Sutherland.

Capital contributions increased by $2.3 million, or 35% to $9.1 million this year, driven by continued strong growth in residential and commercial developments.  Unison connected 1,312 new customers (an increase of approximately ten percent from last year) and facilitated the connection of 421 solar installations, including 148 with battery storage.  The horticulture industry in Hawke’s Bay was a noticeable contributor, as was subdivision growth and infrastructure requirements from councils across all regions.

Mr Hocquard said the Board is confident in Unison’s strategic direction going into the new financial year.

“The repercussions of COVID-19 are unknown and will require agility and responsiveness across Unison’s businesses,” said Mr Hocquard.

“Notwithstanding this, the Board and management are confident that Unison’s business and operations are well managed, and the company is in a sound position to meet the likely challenges and opportunities ahead,” Mr Hocquard said.

2019-20 Key Financial Highlights:

  • Total Group Revenue - $254.0m
  • Net Profit After Tax - $32.0m
  • Capital Expenditure - $68.6m
  • Final Dividend - $15.8m

Please refer to Unison’s Annual Report for full details www.unison.co.nz/annual-report


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