Opportunity and risk management system
Our success is significantly dependent on identifying opportunities and risks in our business activities and actively managing them. The goal of the risk management system is to safeguard the company’s existence for the long term and ensure its successful future development by identifying opportunities and risks and, depending on their nature, appropriately considering these in strategic and operational decisions. Risks and opportunities are understood as possible future developments or events that may result in either negative or positive deviations from business objectives.
Our management system is based both on internal organizational workflows that are managed by way of control and monitoring mechanisms and on early warning systems that are used to closely observe changes in external conditions and systematically implement the appropriate measures. This approach applies equally to risks and opportunities.
Like all methods intended for dealing with business risk, this system does not offer absolute protection. However, it does serve to prevent business risks from having a material impact on the company with a sufficient degree of certainty.
The principles of our opportunity and risk management system are set forth in a Group directive. The management system, which uses the COSO model as the enterprise risk management framework, comprises many different elements that are incorporated into business processes through the company’s organizational structure, its workflows, its planning, reporting and communication systems, and a set of detailed management policies and technical standards.
The system is based on an integration concept, i.e. the early identification of opportunities and risks is an integral part of the management system and not the object of a separate organizational structure. The management of opportunities and risks is therefore a primary duty of the heads of all business units, as well as of those people in Group companies who hold process and project responsibility. This is why our opportunity and risk management is based on clearly defined business processes, the precise assignment of responsibilities throughout the Group, and reporting systems that ensure the timely provision of the information required for decision-making to the Board of Management or other management levels.
Roles of key organizational units
At LANXESS, the business units each conduct their own operations, for which they have global profit responsibility. Group functions and service companies support the business units by providing financial, legal, technical and other centralized services. Complementing this global alignment of the business units and group functions, the country organizations ensure the required proximity to markets and the necessary organizational infrastructure.
In line with this division of duties, we have assigned responsibility, i.e. defined the risk owners, for the following:
- identification and assessment of risks and opportunities;
- implementation of control measures (measures taken to avoid, minimize or diversify risk);
- monitoring the development of risks and opportunities (e.g. on the basis of performance indicators and, perhaps also, early warning indicators);
- risk mitigation (measures to minimize damage upon occurrence of a risk event);
- communication of the key risks and opportunities to the management committees of the business units and group functions.
The Corporate Controlling Group Function is responsible for collecting and aggregating key information across the Group at the following intervals:
- twice per year during the intrayear forecasting process;
- once per year as part of the budget and planning process for the subsequent year and the medium-term forecast horizon.
The reported opportunities and risks are collected in a central database and regularly analyzed for the Board of Management and Supervisory Board. This ensures that when new risks and opportunities arise or when existing ones change substantially, the necessary information can be communicated in a timely manner all the way to the Board of Management and therefore also be specifically integrated into the general management of the company.
The reporting threshold for opportunities and risks is an effect of €1 million on Group net income or EBITDA pre exceptionals. This low reporting threshold guarantees that the information gathered about opportunities and risks is comprehensive and that the collection of information is not just limited to material risks or risks that could jeopardize the future of the company as a going concern. The Corporate Controlling Group Function centrally determines the top opportunities and risks only after the information has been gathered.
The Corporate Development Group Function systematically analyzes and measures significant and strategic opportunities and risks with the goal of ensuring that the Group is pursuing the correct long-term strategy.
Transactions particularly for the transfer of financial but also operating risk (hedging transactions or insurance) are managed centrally by the Treasury Group Function. This is explained in more detail in “Risks of future development.”
Due to the highly integrated nature of our general business processes, we have specialized committees composed of representatives of the business units and group functions who deal with issues concerning the Group’s risks and opportunities. This enables us to react quickly and flexibly to changing situations and their influence on the company.
In addition, a Risk Committee chaired by the Chief Financial Officer analyzes the material risks and their development for their potential impact on the company as a whole. The Risk Committee brings together representatives from selected group functions to analyze existing measures to counter risks, initiate additional measures, define Group-wide risk management standards and guidelines and, if necessary, initiate further analyses of individual risks and opportunities that have been identified.
Risk management is integrated into the planning and forecasting process and identifies risks and opportunities as potential deviations from planned or forecast EBITDA pre exceptionals or Group net income.
Depending on the type of risk, different calculation methods are applied in risk assessment. These may include sensitivity analyses or scenario analyses for distribution risks. The latter are described by fluctuations in planning parameters such as exchange rates, raw material prices and economic development assumptions. They may result either in positive or negative deviations from planned or forecast figures.
Event risks that would only impact earnings if they actually occur are evaluated on the basis of the expected probability of their occurrence and the predicted effect on EBITDA pre exceptionals or Group net income.
Significance of the Group-wide planning process
Corporate planning is a core element of our opportunity and risk management. Opportunities and risks with a high probability of occurrence flow directly into the planning process. Key budget values are calculated and those risks and opportunities considered relatively probable are presented as worst-case/best-case scenarios. The processes for corporate planning and intrayear forecasting as well as the corresponding analyses and suggestions for action are steered by the Corporate Controlling Group Function, which works closely in this regard with the business units. Certain Board of Management meetings are dedicated to discussing and adopting corporate planning outcomes, including the associated opportunities and risks. We monitor, and if necessary adjust, the annual budget in any given fiscal year by regularly updating our expectations for business development.
There is also provision for immediate internal reporting on specific risk issues such as unexpected operational events with a significant impact on earnings. In 2013, there was no cause for immediate reporting of this kind.
Compliance as an integral component
Risk management also includes preventing illegal conduct by our employees. To this end, we obtain extensive legal advice concerning business transactions and obligate employees by means of our compliance code to observe the law and to act responsibly. The compliance code is part of a comprehensive compliance management system that has been structured in accordance with the principles of an internationally recognized framework for enterprise risk management (COSO). A Compliance Committee promotes and monitors adherence to our compliance guidelines. Its work is supported by compliance officers who have been appointed for each country in which we have a subsidiary. The Compliance Committee is chaired by a Group Compliance Officer, who reports directly and regularly to the Board of Management. In addition, there is provision for immediate notification of the Board of Management and Supervisory Board in the event of serious compliance violations. In 2013, there was no cause for immediate reporting of this kind.
(Group) accounting aspects of the internal control and risk management system
The aspects of the internal control and risk management system relating to the (Group) accounting process include the principles, procedures and measures required to ensure the effectiveness, efficiency and propriety of the company’s accounting, and compliance with applicable legal regulations. To this end, clear organizational, control and monitoring structures have been established. The distinctive features of the chemical industry and the risk management tools used regularly by LANXESS in this regard are taken into account. In addition to the (Group) accounting process in its narrower sense, this also includes the aforementioned structured budget and forecasting process, and extensive contract management. However, the effectiveness and reliability of the internal control and risk management system can be restricted by discretionary decisions, criminal acts, faulty controls or other circumstances. Thus, even if the system components used are applied Group-wide, the correct and timely recording of (Group) accounting issues cannot be guaranteed with full assurance.
The Accounting Group Function, which reports to the Chief Financial Officer, is responsible for the (Group) accounting process and therefore for preparing the annual financial statements of LANXESS AG and the consolidated financial statements of the LANXESS Group. It is also responsible for ensuring the uniform preparation of the single-entity financial statements of the subsidiaries that are included in the consolidated financial statements. The Board of Management prepares the annual financial statements and the consolidated financial statements, which are then forwarded to the Supervisory Board’s Audit Committee without delay. Upon recommendation by the Audit Committee, the annual financial statements and the consolidated financial statements are adopted and approved by the Supervisory Board at its financial statements meeting. The Supervisory Board, and especially its Audit Committee, deal with major questions relating to LANXESS’s accounting and risk management, the audit mandate and the areas of focus for the auditor’s audit of the annual financial statements.
Consolidated interim financial statements are prepared each quarter. The condensed consolidated half-year financial statements are reviewed, while the annual financial statements and the consolidated financial statements are subjected to a full audit by the auditor of the company’s annual financial statements and consolidated financial statements.
LANXESS AG’s uniform accounting in compliance with the German Commercial Code is based on a structured process with appropriate organizational structures and workflows, including the related working instructions. In addition to the segregation of duties, the dual-control principle and continual plausibility testing serve as fundamental monitoring tools during the financial statement preparation process. On the IT side, the accounting process is supplemented by an integrated IT system that is based largely on off-the-shelf software and is protected by security measures against unauthorized access. The correctness of the automatically generated postings and the master data required for them is regularly reviewed. Manual postings are based on a systematic voucher system, documented to the necessary extent and verified downstream.
The foundation for uniform and IFRS -compliant consolidated financial reporting at LANXESS is the Group Financial Statements Guideline. This governs the way the provisions of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS ) applicable to the Group are applied by the subsidiaries as reporting entities. Moreover, the guideline also defines the chart of accounts that is binding throughout the Group. On the IT side, the guideline is supplemented by a uniform, Group-wide delivery and consolidation system that is based largely on off-the-shelf software and is protected by security measures against unauthorized access.
By controlling and monitoring LANXESS’s (Group) accounting process, we ensure that generally accepted accounting practices in line with the applicable laws and standards are applied and guarantee the reliability of our financial reporting. The (Group) accounting-related internal control system we use is based on generally accepted standards (COSO model). There were no material changes to this system during the period under review. Corresponding standards also apply to the single-entity financial statements of the subsidiaries.
Preparation of the consolidated financial statements is based on a detailed process that includes specifying a financial statement calendar containing deadlines for the delivery of certain data. A further component is regular reviews of the correctness and completeness of the scope of consolidation. The principle of the segregation of duties as expressed in structured authorization and approval procedures and the dual-control principle as well as continual plausibility testing on data is applied end-to-end throughout the preparation and consolidation process.
For the consolidated financial statements, all subsidiaries subject to reporting requirements transmit their Group reporting data using the above-mentioned consolidation system. Validation rules integrated into the system ensure that the data reported by the subsidiaries are consistent at the time of delivery. The ultimate responsibility for ensuring the correctness of the reported data content lies with the accounting departments of the subsidiaries. The Corporate Accounting Department within the Accounting Group Function conducts more detailed testing of the correctness of the data content. To this end, the department evaluates standardized reports in which the companies explain material facts relevant to financial reporting. After the process-based controls have been applied, Group consolidation including currency translation is carried out in the same system, without additional interfaces, utilizing both automated and manual procedures. The correctness of the automated consolidation steps and of the master data necessary for this purpose is reviewed regularly. Consolidation information that must be entered manually is posted separately, documented to the extent required and verified downstream. This is supplemented by validation rules that are integrated into the system.
Regular coordination with other financial group functions, particularly the Treasury, Tax and Controlling group functions, assists the financial reporting process. A continual exchange of information with the operating business units and other group functions makes it possible for the Accounting Group Function to identify and deal with issues arising outside of accounting processes. These include litigation risks, projections for impairment testing and special contractual agreements with suppliers or customers. In addition, third-party service providers are consulted on special issues, particularly relating to the valuation of pensions and other post-employment benefits.
Monitoring of risk management system and internal control system (ICS)
Within the Group, the Internal Auditing Group Function is tasked with overseeing whether the internal control and monitoring system is functioning properly and whether organizational safeguards are being observed. The planning of audits (selection of audit subjects) and audit methods applied by this group function are correspondingly aligned with risks. To assess the effectiveness of the ICS, an annual self-assessment is also carried out in major Group companies, operating units and group functions. In addition, the early warning system is evaluated by the auditor as part of the audit of the annual financial statements. The Supervisory Board also exercises control functions, including regular monitoring of the efficiency of the management systems described above by the full Supervisory Board and by its Audit Committee. The Audit Committee reviews reports about the Compliance Committee’s activities and findings, the work of the Internal Auditing Group Function, and the status of the risk management and internal control system.
Risks of future development
The identified risks of future development of the LANXESS Group can be categorized according to the sources of risk shown in the table below:
|Main Sources of Risk|
|Regional differences in performance|
|Long-term exchange-rate parities|
Regional differences in economic trends
LANXESS is inherently exposed to the general economic and political opportunities and risks in the countries and regions in which the LANXESS Group operates. Regional differences in economic performance and the associated demand trends can affect the Group’s pricing and sales potential in its various geographical markets, with corresponding effects on its earnings. We address these issues with our broad regional presence and by expanding our profile in selected growth regions. This approach is discussed in further detail in the “Strategy” section of this combined management report.
Long-term exchange rate trends
Depending on the country of production, shifts in exchange rate parities can affect sales revenues as reported in the Group’s currency and the gross profit margins on sales as they relate to the production costs of products. In addition to the hedging we perform as described under “Financial risks,” we also make a point of expanding our production sites in the key growth regions in order to build a natural hedge position by matching production and sales in the regional markets.
We actively manage the risk of demographic change as well. To ensure continued access to a highly skilled workforce, we launched a comprehensive package of measures known as XCare in 2009, starting in Germany. Interdisciplinary working groups are collaborating closely with employee representatives at LANXESS to develop innovative concepts to preempt and actively address shifts resulting from demographic change – ranging from increasing the number of vocational training positions to measures allowing older employees to enjoy a longer working life.
Thus far, we have not experienced a major shortage of labor in our global markets, not least because the Advance program of extensive efficiency and restructuring measures reduced our specific need for skilled employees in the reporting period. However, a forward-looking and sustainable HR policy will remain important. For this reason, we are consistently expanding our cooperations with research institutes, universities, colleges and high schools in Germany and other target markets – activities we also pursued in the year under review. At many events around the world, we positioned our company as an attractive employer and sought contact with highly talented young people. We have established a LANXESS program to provide both financial and expert support for undergraduate and postgraduate students. In the reporting period, we also initiated a loyalty program for particularly outstanding interns. Both these programs focus on the natural and engineering sciences and are being extended outside Germany to the BRICS countries especially, taking into account local requirements.
Corporate strategy risks
We actively pursue the strategic optimization of the enterprise. Our efforts include ongoing efficiency enhancement, strengthening of core businesses, active portfolio management and proactive participation in industry consolidation through partnerships, divestments and acquisitions.
The success of the decisions associated with these efforts is naturally subject to forecasting risk in respect of predicting future (market) developments and making assumptions about the feasibility of planned measures. For example, the entry into or exit from a business segment could be based on profitability or growth expectations that prove to be unrealistic over time. We mitigate this risk by carefully and systematically analyzing the information that is relevant to decision-making. During this process, the business units affected and the Board of Management receive support from departments with the requisite expertise and, if necessary, from external consultants.
When gathering information about potential M&A candidates, it is possible that certain facts required to assess a candidate’s future performance or to determine the purchase price are not available or are not correctly interpreted. We reduce this risk by conducting well-structured due diligence analyses and, where possible, by concluding appropriate agreements with the sellers. Insufficient integration of acquired companies or businesses can result in expected developments not materializing. For this reason, we have processes in place with which full integration of acquired businesses is assured. If assumptions concerning future developments – such as the realization of synergies – do not materialize, this might result in a write-down on assets. We monitor this risk by carrying out impairment testing at least once a year.
The preparatory work for investments that exceed a specified significance threshold is the responsibility of the relevant business units. After review by an Investment Committee set up for this purpose, the information is presented to the Board of Management for a decision. By following this procedure, we ensure that investments are in line with our corporate strategy and satisfy our profitability and security requirements.
If there is any indication of a decline in the value of non-current assets, impairment testing is performed and, if necessary, write-downs are recognized. As described under “Corporate strategy risks,” any change to the parameters relevant to impairment testing may yield the risk of write-downs on assets. Such risks could be changes to the expected cash flows or assumed interest rates.
Our IT systems support LANXESS’s business activities worldwide, including the processes from receiving an order to receiving payment and from placing an order to paying a vendor. It is important that the people who use the systems receive correct and meaningful information when they need it. We support this by developing a uniform, integrated system architecture and investing in the expansion and improvement of IT services worldwide.
The operation and use of IT systems entails risks. For example, networks or systems may fail, or data and information may be compromised or destroyed because of operator and programming errors or external factors. In both cases, this can cause serious business interruptions. To mitigate such risks, we invest in suitable data protection systems, such as mirror databases designed to prevent the loss of data and information. Various security and monitoring tools, like firewalls and access restriction and authorization systems, are used to ensure the integrity, confidentiality and availability of data and information and the trouble-free operation of systems. The risk management practices employed by the Information Technology Group Function comply with recognized standards.
The risk of industrial actions in some countries resulting from disputes in connection with negotiations concerning future collective pay agreements or associated with restructuring measures cannot be ruled out. We counter this risk by fostering open communication with our employees and their representatives in a culture of active labor relations. The employee representatives in various countries have been consulted with regard to our Advance program of efficiency and restructuring measures. Continuous use is made of existing dialogue platforms such as the European Forum, which brings together the works councils in Europe. We also actively seek dialogue with employee and trade union representatives in the other regions in which we operate.
Our employees’ expert knowledge of internal processes and issues relating to their areas of specialization is a critical factor in the efficiency of our business operations. We take various approaches to mitigate the risk of losing this expertise and to increase our employees’ loyalty to the company, including attractive compensation models, challenging jobs and international career options. We continue to invest in the next generation of employees by increasing the number of training opportunities in Germany. We have also launched and expanded regional internship, trainee and loyalty programs in, for example, Brazil, India and China as well as Germany. These early loyalty programs coexist with our established central Corporate Trainee Program offering international assignments and with our regional trainee programs. In some regions and countries, including China, we go into schools in search of interesting talents we can develop. One indicator of our success so far in limiting the loss of know-how is the low employee turnover in all regions and constant applicant numbers, for example from highly talented university graduates.
Risks in sales markets
The volatility and cyclicality that are typical of the global chemical and polymer markets and their dependence on developments in customer industries harbor risks to LANXESS’s business. As well as the general risk of lower GDP growth, the particular dependence of the rubber business on the tire and automotive industries can result in sales volatility. In addition to being subject to these demand-side market risks, LANXESS’s risk profile is influenced, and its earning power can be weakened, by structural changes in markets, such as the entry of new suppliers and the availability of additional capacities, regional shifts, the migration of customers to countries with lower costs, and product substitution or market consolidation trends in some sectors. We counter such trends by systematically managing costs and continuously adjusting our product portfolio, sharpening its focus and aligning our offering to innovative customer segments which will enable us to operate successfully in the long term.
In our Performance Polymers segment, the synthetic rubber business faces increasing competition, partly from new manufacturers entering the market. In some business units, this may result in overcapacities and stronger competition on prices. LANXESS is pursuing a product-specific strategy in these areas based on factors such as product and process differentiation and global positioning. In addition, LANXESS has launched Advance, a Group-wide program aimed at increasing efficiency and reducing costs.
Risks in the course of operations
A lack of plant availability and disruptions of plant and process safety can make it impossible for us to meet production targets and adequately service existing demand, resulting in a loss of marginal income. We use a comprehensive range of measures to counter this scenario. These include proactive facility maintenance, regular compliance checks, the preparation of risk assessments and systematic training of employees to improve standards and safety.
Environmental risks from production processes
Although LANXESS applies high technical and safety standards to the construction, operation and maintenance of production facilities, interruptions in operations, including those due to external factors, such as natural disasters or terrorism, cannot be ruled out. These can lead to explosions, the release of materials hazardous to health, or accidents in which people, property or the environment are harmed. In addition to systematically monitoring compliance with quality standards in order to avoid such stoppages and accidents, we are also insured against the resulting damage to the extent usual in the industry.
LANXESS was and is responsible for numerous sites at which chemicals have been produced for periods that in some cases exceed 140 years. This responsibility also extends to waste disposal facilities. The possibility cannot be ruled out that pollution occurred during this time that has not been discovered to date. We are committed to the Responsible Care® initiative and pursue active environmental management and proactive environmental protection management. This includes constant monitoring and testing of the soil, groundwater and air and of various emissions. We have set up sufficient provisions for necessary containment or remediation measures in areas with identified contamination.
LANXESS’s product portfolio includes substances that are classified as hazardous to health. In order to prevent possible harm to health, we systematically test the properties of our products and draw our customers’ attention to the risks associated with their use. We also carry product liability insurance that is customary in our industry.
In line with LANXESS’s forward-looking approach, product monitoring enables us to identify and evaluate potential hazards associated with our product portfolio and initiate suitable measures if relevance is established.
Risks in procurement markets
On the procurement side, the principal risks lie in the high volatility of raw material and energy prices and in the availability of raw materials. If the price of the materials we use increases, our production costs increase. If the price of the materials we use decreases, write-downs may have to be recognized on inventories. In addition, changes in raw material prices impact our selling prices. We mitigate these risks by following a sensible inventory and procurement policy. Most of the company’s raw material needs are met by long-term supply contracts and contracts containing price escalation clauses. Many agreements with customers also contain price escalation clauses. We also have the option of hedging this risk via derivatives transactions if liquid futures markets are available for hedging raw material and energy price risks (see also “Financial risks”).
LANXESS operates in energy-intensive industries that face international competition and are dependent on competitive market conditions. We believe that Germany’s change in energy policy entails the risk of a unilateral increase in the country’s energy costs, thus substantially weakening the competitive position of German companies in international markets. With a view to mitigating this risk, we are discussing the economic consequences of increasing energy prices with the authorities and government – either directly or in cooperation with other energy-intensive companies via industry organizations.
To guard against possible supply bottlenecks due to factors such as the failure of a supplier or of an upstream operation at a networked site, we pursue an appropriate inventory strategy and line up alternative sources of supply. We also face increases in our personnel expenses because of future wage increases. Such an increase in the cost of human resources can be just as detrimental to earnings as increases in raw material prices, as described above, but in the case of personnel we cannot hedge the risk in futures markets or pass it on to our customers. In order to cushion the impact of such negative developments on our cost base, we pursue a market-oriented pricing policy. Additionally, we are constantly looking for ways to use our resources more efficiently so that we can offset higher costs by raising productivity.
The Treasury Group Function centrally manages financial risks. The chief financial risks are:
|Price risks||Liquidity and refinancing risks||Default risks||Investment risks|
|Currencies||Availability of cash||Customers||Investments in pension assets|
|Raw materials||Access to multi- and bilateral capital markets||Banks|
- Price risks
Price risks arise from buying and selling goods and services in foreign currencies, the procurement of raw materials and energies, and the company’s financing.
Currencies Since the LANXESS Group undertakes transactions in various currencies, it is exposed to the risk of fluctuations in the relative value of these currencies, particularly the U.S. dollar, against the euro.
Currency risks from potential declines in the value of financial instruments due to exchange rate fluctuations (transaction risks) arise mainly when receivables and payables are denominated in a currency other than the company’s local currency.
Currency risks relating to operating activities are systematically monitored and analyzed. While the risks relating to changes in the value of receivables and payables denominated in foreign currencies are fully hedged, the scope of hedging for currency risks relating to forecast transactions is subject to regular review. A significant proportion of the currency risks arising from contracts are hedged using derivative financial instruments.
Currency risks arising on financial transactions, including the interest component, are generally fully hedged through forward exchange contracts.
The business units calculate gross currency risks, i.e. before hedging measures, that are then included in risk reporting. Since the LANXESS Group concludes derivative contracts for the greater part of its currency risks, it believes that, in the short term, a rise or fall in the euro against other major currencies would have no material impact on future cash flows.
Raw materials/energies The LANXESS Group is exposed to changes in the market prices for the energies and raw materials used in its business operations. Increases in energy and raw material procurement costs are generally passed on to customers. Where such risks cannot be passed on in their entirety, the related risks may be hedged on a case-by-case basis by forward commodity contracts in order to reduce the volatility of cash flows.
As in the previous year, LANXESS had no forward commodity contracts as at the reporting date.
Interest rate risks Market interest rate movements can cause fluctuations in the fair value of a financial instrument. Interest rate risks affect both financial assets and financial liabilities.
Since the majority of financial liabilities were entered into at fixed interest rates, changes in interest rates in the coming years will have only a limited impact on the LANXESS Group.
- Liquidity and refinancing
We ensure our access to the capital markets and our solvency through a conservative financing policy and a target capital structure that is largely based on the ratio systems used by leading rating agencies. Our conservative financing policy takes into account the risk of a change to our rating and the associated effects on financial risk management, even though LANXESS has no direct influence on the assessments by independent rating agencies.
Our main liquidity reserve is a €1.25 billion syndicated credit facility, which remained largely undrawn on the reporting date. In February 2014, its original term was extended by one year to February 2019; it can be renewed once more for a further year. A further material credit line of €200 million with the European Investment Bank was undrawn at year-end 2013. In addition to credit facilities, the Group has short-term liquidity reserves of €533 million in the form of cash and cash equivalents and highly liquid investments in AAA-rated money market funds. Accordingly, the LANXESS Group has a liquidity position based on a broad range of financing instruments.
- Counterparty risks
Counterparty risks (credit risks) arise from trade relationships with customers and dealings with banks and other financial partners, especially with regard to the investment business and financial instrument transactions.
Customer risks are systematically identified, analyzed and managed using both internal and external information sources. Customer portfolios may be insured against credit risks, especially where the risk profile is elevated.
The objective of receivables management at LANXESS is to collect all outstanding payments punctually and in full, and thus to minimize the risk of default. Continuous monitoring is computer-assisted based on the payment terms agreed with the customers. These are generally based on the customary payment terms for the business or country. Reminders are sent out at regular intervals if payments are overdue.
Credit insurance has been concluded with a well-known European credit insurer to cover material credit risks relating to receivables from customers. After a deductible, these cover default risks, especially in Europe, that could arise up to the end of the fiscal year in the mid-double-digit millions of euros. The maximum credit risk is further reduced by letters of credit in favor of LANXESS. In certain cases, prepayment is agreed with the contracting partner.
In addition, LANXESS has a contractually agreed title to goods until the contracting partner has paid the full purchase price. The vast majority of receivables relate to customers with very high credit standing.
The creditworthiness of the counterparty is a key criterion in the financial policy and credit risk management of the LANXESS Group, especially in the selection of banks and financial partners for capital investments and transactions involving financial instruments. LANXESS therefore endeavors to undertake transactions with banks and other financial counterparties that have at least an investment-grade rating. The derivatives and financial assets outstanding as of the closing date were almost all concluded with banks with an investment-grade rating.
Credit risk management also includes global management of the counterparty risk relating to all existing banks and financial partners. The LANXESS Group pays particular attention to risk diversification to prevent any cluster risks that could jeopardize its continued existence. Through master agreements, the market values of open trading positions can be netted if a partner becomes insolvent, thereby further reducing risks.
- Investment risks
Risks associated with the investment of pension assets are monitored by the Pension Committee, which is made up of the Chief Financial Officer and representatives from the Treasury, Accounting and Human Resources group functions.
Additional information on our financial risks can be found under Note , “Financial instruments,” to the consolidated financial statements.
Companies in the LANXESS Group are parties to various litigations. The outcome of individual proceedings cannot be predicted with assurance due to the uncertainties always associated with legal disputes. To the extent necessary in light of the known circumstances in each case, we have set up risk provisions for the event that the outcome of such proceedings is unfavorable to LANXESS. Taking into account existing provisions and insurance, as well as agreements reached with third parties in respect of liability risks arising from legal disputes, it is currently estimated that none of these proceedings will materially affect our future financial position.
Risks from regulatory measures
Possible tightening of safety, quality and environmental regulations or standards can lead to additional costs and liability risks. Particularly noteworthy in this regard is the implementation of the E.U. Regulation concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). As well as direct costs that could arise due to additional measures necessary to comply with these standards, market structures could change to our disadvantage as a result of a shift by suppliers and customers to regions outside Europe.
Changes in the legislative framework may entail additional costs which disadvantage our business units. Owing to the uncertain outcome of the government aid procedure initiated by the European Commission in association with the German Renewable Energy Act (EEG), there is a risk that waived surcharges will have to be backpaid and new charges will be introduced in the future, resulting in increasing energy prices. Additional information on the risk of increasing energy prices is contained in the section headed “Risks in procurement markets” in this risk report.
Any violations of foreign trade regulations may result in prohibitions and restrictions on LANXESS’s export activities and the loss of its privileges in respect of export procedures. In individual cases, this may also result in fines, trade sanctions and loss of reputation. The LANXESS Group ensures compliance in foreign trade and export control through the global implementation and optimization of appropriate and stable control instruments and automated screening processes. By proactively monitoring trade policy developments, timely information is provided to both the operating units and the management organs concerning changes to foreign trade and the associated opportunities and risks, and appropriate recommendations for action are made.
Tax matters are subject to a degree of uncertainty in terms of their assessment by the tax authorities in Germany and other countries. Even if we believe that all circumstances have been reported correctly and in compliance with the law, the possibility cannot be ruled out that the tax authorities may come to a different conclusion in individual cases.
Significance of risks and result of risk assessment
The significance of risks lies in their potential impact on EBITDA pre exceptionals. Risks which may produce a deviation of more than 5% from our projected EBITDA pre exceptionals in the planning year are considered to be of medium to high significance.
Within the context of risk management, procurement market risks (primarily influenced by the raw material price risk), the sales market risk (especially general economic development risks) and financial risks (almost exclusively the currency risk) were identified as the top three risks in the planning year. Based on the assumed probability of occurrence, each of these risks could produce a negative deviation of up to 15% from our projected EBITDA pre exceptionals, which is our key controlling parameter. On the other hand, favorable trends in our sales markets, raw material prices and exchange rates could also each result in a positive deviation of up to 12%. Further information about opportunities can be found in the opportunity report.
In light of its extensive global activities and its dependence on raw materials characterized by volatile price trends, our Performance Polymers segment especially may be vulnerable to these risks, which we seek to mitigate by means of suitable countermeasures.
Summary of LANXESS’s overall risk exposure
Despite mixed economic developments across regions and sectors, our risk exposure during the reporting year was not fundamentally or materially different from our risk exposure during the previous year due to our broadly diversified product and customer portfolios. Nonetheless, we would like to point to the increasing competitive pressure facing our synthetic rubber business. All planning is subject to a certain degree of forecasting risk, which could necessitate flexible adjustments to rapidly changing business conditions over the course of the year. This is particularly true in view of the fact that planning and forecasts in general have become somewhat less reliable due to the drastic changes observed recently in our global procurement and customer markets.
In light of our present financing structures, our sound liquidity position, and our demonstrated ability to adapt our businesses, even on short notice, to significant changes in the business environment, we are confident that we will be able to successfully master any risks that materialize in the future.
Based on an overall evaluation of risk management information, the Board of Management at the present time cannot identify any sufficiently likely risks or risk combinations that would jeopardize the continued existence of LANXESS.