Interview with Yves Meignié
What were the highlights of 2014 at VINCI Energies?
In practical terms, 2014 again demonstrated our determination to constantly expand our range of expertise and our international operations. To achieve this, we acquired 20 companies that will generate full-year revenue of €1.1 billion. Two of them have major impact on our organisation. These are Imtech ICT, which operates in half-dozen European countries and consolidates our Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) activities, and Electrix, a major infrastructure provider in Oceania, especially Australia and New Zealand, which will accelerate our expansion outside Europe.
Do these acquisitions reflect a good level of business activity for VINCI Energies?
Despite difficult market conditions, 2014 was an excellent year for us. It demonstrated the resilience of our network. Our revenue rose slightly (by 0.7%) and our operating profit held steady at a very high level of 5.6%. We owe this momentum to the diversity of our areas of expertise, the wide range of our solutions and services, the vitality of our management and the breadth of our geographical coverage. More than ever, we are building our expansion on a network of multi-local business units located very close to their customers on all continents. This decentralised model constitutes our strength. It enables us to build comprehensive offers for our customers, adapt quickly to market fluctuations and find new growth drivers to make up for declining investment in some of our existing market segments.
For several years now, VINCI Energies has been strengthening its network brands. Did you continue this effort during the past year?
Our network brands are part of our strategy. Our local relationships with our customers involve our longstanding local brands, which have strong roots in their geographical areas and currently make up 40% of our business activity. However, to meet the needs of large customers wishing to work with a local company that can provide them with overall solutions to meet their needs, we need to have leader brands with well-identified offers. In 2014 we therefore rolled out our Actemium and Omexom brands on a broad scale and decided to bring together all our business units operating in ICT under the new Axians brand. It is being set up as the logical follow-up to the Imtech ICT acquisition that has made VINCI Energies a leader in ICT integration and services in Europe, generating annual revenue of €1.5 billion.
What impact will this have on your business activity?
First, we will consolidate our ICT activities. They add a further dimension to our infrastructure, industry and service sector activities. By pooling our expertise, we are now able to serve as an integrator in nascent markets – such as smart grids, smart cities, smart buildings and Industry 4.0 – where the ICT component is crucial. We intend to build solutions and services that make sense for our customers in all these fields.
This could create opportunities for the VINCI Group as a whole.
We operate in high-potential markets, some of which already exist and some of which are in the early stages of development. Our positioning as an integrator creates synergies with the other VINCI business lines and enables VINCI to include systems, energy and ICT in its comprehensive bids on infrastructure and building contracts. In addition, the long-term partnerships we forge with our customers obviously bolster VINCI’s long-range capabilities and give it access to other growth activities.
Innovation, recruitment and safety are part of the life of large groups. Where do you stand in these areas?
At VINCI Energies, innovation is part of our day-to-day work. Our innovation is technical, commercial and highly decentralised. We have set up more than 100 clubs to focus on specific themes and they disseminate the innovation culture throughout our business units on an ongoing basis. But innovation is also a crucial factor in our ability to attract new talent. With this in mind, we embarked on a project to make VINCI Energies a genuine “employer brand” and recruit in its name. The move demonstrates our confidence in the future and in our business activities. At the same time we are setting up training programmes customised to fit the career path of each employee and we pay constant attention to employee safety. One good example is our Safety Day, held on June 5, in which all the employees in all our business units around the world participated.
What is your approach to the coming year?
We have a network of business units that are all set to go. The network is agile and resilient when times are hard, and it is also able to “hop to it” when opportunities for acquisitions arise. We will consider all opportunities to extend our markets, expand our positioning and increase the number of countries where we operate, but our focus will always be on broadening and deepening the scope of our network. We therefore have full confidence in the reliability of our fundamentals and can go forward with equanimity as we head into 2015.