Interview of oLIVIER ROUSSAT
GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
(Date of interview: 23 February 2022)
How would you sum up 2021?
First of all, I want to thank the Group’s employees for their resilience, professional conduct and strong ability to adapt in these uncertain times.
2021 was a remarkable year in many respects. The Bouygues group returned to its growth momentum, as evidenced by its excellent results, and achieved or exceeded all its financial targets.
Buoyed by this confidence in the future, the Board of Directors has proposed a dividend of €1.80 per share, which is higher than in the previous year. The Group also enjoys a particularly robust financial structure, with net debt at a historically low level. As a result, it has strong investment capacity, which it can leverage in particular to grow its business segments.
In this respect, the Group seized two unique opportunities. Firstly, it signed a purchase agreement with Engie to acquire Equans with the aim of becoming the world’s number-two provider of multi-technical services.
And secondly, it signed an agreement to merge TF1 with M6 in order to create a major French media group.
We accelerated the roll-out of the actions set out in our Climate strategy, which we unveiled in December 2020, as well as putting our 2021 CSR roadmap into action.
Could you expand on your 2021 CSR roadmap?
In May, we launched our second Gender Balance plan, which runs from 2021 to 2023 and includes worldwide targets. By 2023, our aim is to have women occupy 20% of managerial positions and 30% of executive body positions at Group level. I firmly believe that gender balance is a major driver of performance and can help accelerate the transformation of the Group.
Improvements were also made to quality of life in the workplace, while all our employees worldwide benefited from an increase in the common core of employee
benefits under our BYCare programme.
Also, as part of its Climate strategy, the Group has earmarked, within its expenditure for 2022-2024, an estimated €2.2 billion that will help reduce its carbon footprint.
A Group-wide committee was set up to identify the impacts of the Group’s businesses on biodiversity.
Each business segment has made pledges and drawn up action plans on this front, including measures to reduce direct pressure from land-use change, to restore nature, to combat the spread of invasive alien species and to limit pollution at worksites.
What, in your view, are the key challenges facing the Bouygues group?
We are facing three major challenges. The first is the climate emergency, which is both an obstacle and a growth opportunity, because we stand ready to help our customers reduce their own carbon footprints.
There is now widespread awareness and recognition of climate-related issues among our customers worldwide, as well as among the financial community, young graduates and our employees.
The second challenge is to be able to make our business segments more competitive through differentiation by leveraging our innovation capability, the quality of our products and services and our close relationship with customers. We must also grasp the opportunities to boost productivity that the digitisation of certain building processes permits. We will also need to pursue the roll-out of our standards of operational excellence and the margin improvement plans in each of our business segments.
The third and final challenge, of course, is to bring our two major external growth projects to successful completion, so that they may help create value for our stakeholders.
How do you see 2022 shaping up?
Bouygues is well-positioned for 2022. In financial terms, the Group is expecting a further increase in sales and current operating profit versus 2021. And on the CSR front, after the endorsement of Colas’ greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, the Group is now looking for the SBTi [a] to endorse the decarbonisation targets of its other business segments. We will also be working hard to roll out our action plans in order to achieve the targets set.
Thanks to the dedication of our people and their mindset, as well as to the confidence that we enjoy among our customers and shareholders, we are confident about the future and in our ability to address the challenges that we face.
[a] NDLR: Science Based Targets initiative, a joint effort of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute (WRI)
(estimated) that will help reduce its carbon footprint