Interview of oLIVIER ROUSSAT
GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
(Date of interview: 22 February 2023)
In 2022, Bouygues expanded its reach with the acquisition of Equans. Can you explain the reasons behind this transaction?
Expanding Bouygues’ footprint in the energies and services market was an obvious choice. The industry stands at the crossroads of the energy, industrial and digital transitions, all of which will gather pace in the coming years. Consolidating our foothold in these fast-growing markets presents an opportunity to step up Bouygues’ contribution to shaping a low-carbon future. On top of this, there are plenty of
good reasons to focus on energies and services: low capital expenditure, regular cash flow, margins that can exceed 5% in normal operating conditions, and healthy risk-spreading across thousands of mostly recurring contracts. Last but not least, success in this line of business depends on effective people management – something that has been at the core of what we do for 70 years. With this acquisition, we are proud to
create a new global leader through the merger of Equans and Bouygues Energies & Services, formerly a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction. This new business segment is headed by Jérôme Stubler, a seasoned and respected professional.
How would you sum up 2022 for Bouygues?
The economic environment was particularly complex in 2022. Against this backdrop, we reported good results for 2022, underscoring the strength
of our business model. Commercial performance was strong in telecoms, and the backlog in the construction and services businesses provides good
visibility on future activity. Our healthy balance sheet is reflected in our very favourable credit agency ratings. Turning to our CSR strategy, our focus in 2022 was to ramp up the roll-out of initiatives agreed upon in previous years. CSR roadmaps and key performance indicators have been finalised for each of our business segments, and we have the right people with the right skills in place
to meet our goals. We also carried out several wage increases across all our business segments last year as a way to counter the impact of inflation on the cost of living for our employees, especially the lowest earners.
What are Bouygues’ main CSR goals for 2023?
By the end of 2023, five of our six business segments will have had their
decarbonisation targets endorsed by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Equans, meanwhile, will have audited its global carbon footprint with a view to developing its climate strategy, and will submit its targets to the SBTi for approval. This endorsement process is a major new milestone that will enhance oversight of our Climate strategy. We have also drawn up a formal energy efficiency plan, and we will review the savings achieved in 2024. In 2023, our business segments will also roll out their biodiversity protection and restoration roadmaps. Amid a growing body of CSRrelated regulations, including the roll-out of the European Green Deal, Bouygues is laying the groundwork for compliance with the new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). On the human resources front, the Gender Balance plan is now fully embedded across all our business segments, but we still have plenty of work to do. Gender balance is more than a question of fairness and equality: it is instrumental to the Group’s success, performance and drawing power.
How do you see 2023 shaping up?
In all likelihood, 2023 will be yet another challenging year. But, time and again, we have proven our ability to adapt.
Onboarding Equans’ employees will be our number-one priority for the year ahead. The key challenges will be to secure their buy-in to Bouygues’ corporate culture, to recruit the new talent that will drive the company’s rowth going forward, and to significantly improve margins.
Other priorities for the year include completing the transformation of TF1 after the proposed merger with M6 was abandoned. Rodolphe Belmer, the
new Chairman and CEO of TF1 group, is tasked with injecting fresh impetus into the business. He will also work with his team on a revamped business model geared towards new viewing habits, with an emphasis on content and nonlinear programming.
We can look ahead to 2023 with determination and confidence, buoyed by our strong fundamentals and safe in the knowledge that our people will
once again bring their dedication and professionalism to the fore.