CEO's review

Fortum’s President and CEO Pekka Lundmark:

“2016 was a challenging year in many respects. The beginning of the year was characterised by increased commodity market volatility; especially coal and oil prices were very low. Nordic water reservoirs were clearly above the long-term average, creating pressure on electricity prices, and the British EU exit vote also created uncertainty. Late in the year, however, some positive signs were seen on the power market, mainly driven by improved commodity and emission prices, although the overall business environment still continued to be demanding. Although some European economies have started to recover, the industry's power demand is still too weak and commodity prices are too low and volatile to support a material increase in electricity prices.

In the fourth quarter of 2016 Fortum’s results continued to decline mainly due to significantly lower hydro production volumes. The hydro situation continued dry especially in our key areas in Sweden, but also the achieved power price was lower than in the fourth quarter of 2015. The decline was partially offset by strong performance in the Russia segment and improved availability and hence higher nuclear volumes, than in the fourth quarter of 2015.

A positive development in 2016 was the Swedish government’s budget proposal in September; it included the timetable for lowering the real-estate tax on hydro assets and for phasing out the nuclear capacity tax over the coming years. We are pleased with the swift decision and the finalisation of a timetable, which gives regulatory stability to operate the plants and plan the necessary safety investments. This is completely in line with what we have been advocating for, a regulation and taxation policy where the different forms of production are treated more equally.

Operationally, the year met our expectations, as availability in our plants was good and ongoing projects progressed as planned. We completed our extensive investment programme in Russia in the spring 2016, and the new capacity has been the key driver for the earnings growth in the Russia division.

In February, we published the key high-level elements in our strategy. We also adjusted our operational model to better enable strategy implementation. During the year we screened opportunities in line with our strategy. The acquisition of the Polish electricity and gas sales company DUON, wind power investments in Sweden, Norway and Russia, and the acquisition of Ekokem, a leading Nordic circular economy company, are important steps in the implementation of our strategy and give us access to new revenue streams independent of the Nordic power price. In addition, as we are continuously looking to optimise our production fleet, we divested the Tobolsk power plant in Russia.

We updated our vision and mission in the autumn. Our vision and mission go beyond just clean energy production, they express our commitment to fuel and resource efficiency and how we enable our stakeholders, customers and society to make sustainable choices. Our updated vision – ‘For a cleaner world’ reflects our ambition to drive the transformation towards a low-emission energy system and optimal resource efficiency. Our role is to accelerate this change by reshaping the energy system, improving resource efficiency and providing smart solutions.

We expect the energy sector transformation to accelerate in the future. At the same time as we lower the cost and improve the productivity of our existing operations, we will focus on additional organic and M&A growth opportunities. We have two phases in our capital redeployment. Priority one in phase one is generation consolidation in Europe – consolidation of assets and businesses within our core competence and giving us direct access to cash flows. Priority two in phase one is to take the competencies that we have today in our combined heat and power production and in the acquired Ekokem business, and widen the City Solution’s scope. The overall goal of phase one is to maximize our cash flow to enable both a competitive dividend and “phase two” investments into the future energy system. Phase two involves growing in solar and wind, and new internal or external energy ventures to take care of our long-term competitiveness.

I would like to thank all our employees and partners for their excellent work in 2016. Thank you also to our customers and shareholders for your continued trust in us.“

​(Text from Fortum's Financial Statements Bulletin 2016)