Interview of oLIVIER ROUSSAT

(Date of interview: 26 February 2024)

You completed the acquisition of Equans in October 2022. How are things going with its integration into the Group?

I am extremely pleased with how quickly and seamlessly Equans is integrating into the Bouygues group. Firstly, the merging of our subsidiary Bouygues Energies & Services – formerly a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction – into Equans has been smooth sailing. More broadly speaking, the integration of Equans into the Group is going very well, and the process is moving forwards faster than we expected. Equans’ employees are demonstrating an admirable mindset and derive a certain sense of pride from working for what is now Bouygues’ leading business segment in terms of sales and headcount. This was evidenced by their high rate of participation in “Bouygues Confiance 12”, the latest capital increase reserved for Group employees. That is very encouraging.
Equans achieved its financial targets, posting a current operating margin from activities (COPA margin) of 2.9%, which is in the upper end of the 2.5%-to-3% range we announced to the markets, and a cash conversion rate (COPA-to-cash flow) before working capital requirement (WCR) of 86%, which is also within the announced range of 80% to 100%.
We are rolling out the strategic plan unveiled to the financial community in February 2023, which targets a COPA margin of 5% in 2027. We are determined to show that we acquired Equans for a fair price and that we are capable of bringing this new business segment up to the standards the market expects.

How would you sum up 2023 for Bouygues?

Despite tough and uncertain conditions, all Bouygues business segments reported robust results for 2023 with the exception of Bouygues Immobilier, whose performance was affected by the extremely challenging residential and commercial property market in France. Bouygues Construction, Colas and Equans all have strong backlogs, providing good visibility for 2024.
TF1 focused on reshaping its business model by laying the groundwork for the launch of TF1+. It is aiming to become the leading free French-language streaming platform in order to offset the continuing decline in linear television, which is facing competition from major international platforms.
Bouygues Telecom continues to grow and recruit new mobile and fixed customers. It was voted the second-best mobile network according to the French regulator Arcep. Its fixed services are recognised as a top performer, ranking number one in mainland France for Internet connections according to nPerf.
Last but not least, the Group’s financial position is sound, with a sharp reduction in net debt and a consistently high level of available cash. The long-term credit ratings assigned to the Group by Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s are good, at A3, stable outlook, and A-, negative outlook, respectively.

What were the highlights on the CSR front in 2023?

CSR considerations are now fully embedded into our normal business cycle. Each business segment has measurable, quantified CSR targets relating to our key challenges. On the climate front, our decarbonisation targets are now documented and endorsed, while Equans is currently going through the endorsement process. CSR matters are routinely addressed by all Group governance bodies. We are mindful of our responsibility and we are determined to demonstrate our absolute commitment across all CSR focus areas. Working closely with our suppliers, our academic partners and the start-ups we support, we constantly search for competitive, original solutions that meet our customers’ expectations. The Bouygues group has always risen to even the most demanding challenges – and it will continue to do so. Now more than ever, we will strive to ensure that our products and services are environmentally sustainable and financially profitable, both of which are essential for our future viability.

What are your CSR priorities for 2024?

Our first priority will be to bring our processes and practices into line with the requirements of the CSRD , which will take effect in 2024. Having conducted a wide-ranging stakeholder consultation, we are fully aware of what the public expects from us in terms of sustainability. We will also be launching our Human Rights policy, which will stand us in good stead for the entry into force of the CSDDD in 2025, as well as further stepping up our efforts on gender balance. With the 2030 milestone fast approaching, we will ramp up our climate- and biodiversity-related initiatives in 2024, including by making our low-carbon solutions even more appealing to our customers. We are determined to make inroads on this front, despite persistent disparities in stakeholder maturity and local regulations in our various countries of operation. Bouygues’ operational teams are fully aware of the urgent need for climate action and are ready and willing to play their part.