Introductory letter

The Sustainability Report, which in 2011 reached its fourteenth edition, has become the main reporting instrument adopted by the Group so as to present the results for the year from a sustainability standpoint, results awaited by outside observers increasingly more heedful of the principles of corporate social responsibility.

The description and quantification of the non-financial data, the intangible assets and the social and environmental performance indicators represent the nerve centre of the document which intends to supplement and complete the overview of the economic-financial information already available in the statutory financial statements. In full awareness, Acea therefore deemed that the moment was more than ripe for aligning the publication timescales of the Sustainability Report with those of the annual financial statements - and this is the innovation for this edition - so as to render the two reports usable at the same time, offering the parties concerned a more structured and complex picture of the results of the activities and corporate management, with indication of all the elements which contribute towards defining the distinctive value of the company.

The value and principles which guide the Group find ample room among the contents of the report, along with the activities and operating results, the sustainability objectives achieved and to be achieved, the areas of excellence and those to be improved. Among the elements of excellence which can be mentioned for characterising 2011 in sustainability terms, it is sufficient here to recall the energy efficiency measures planned and consistently achieved care of the operating companies in the water area, with results that exceeded the established objectives; the various projects implemented over the last few years for the improvement of the continuity performances for the distribution of electricity, with rewarding results for the company, and further still the increase in generation from solar sources, the considerable development and enhancement under way of the plants serving the Environment industrial area or in conclusion projects as specific as they are worthy, such as the vendor rating system applied in the work sector-energy area which generated a marked increase in the quality and safety factors along the supply chain.

Taking into account the continuation of a context of general difficulty at macro-economic level in the country, it can be stated that the Group has managed to confirm its economic-financial stability, achieving positive results even if slightly down with respect to 2010. Revenues amounted to Euro 3.5 billion, with a growing contribution from the water, networks and Environment industrial areas. The EbItdA (gross operating margin) came close to Euro 656 million and the net profit amounted to around Euro 86 million. Investments achieved during the year, mostly attributable to the water management activities and energy networks, totalled Euro 413 million.

98% of human Resources employed in Group companies, who exceeded the threshold of 7,000, were employed under permanent contracts. Against a rise in the leaver rate and a drop in the recruit rate, the turnover rate has remained more or less stable in the last three years. This demonstrates that the need to achieve lay-off plans and downsize the workforce, despite being present in the Group, is satisfied by conscientiously limiting the social impacts. The figures relating to accidents also improved thanks to careful awareness raising activities regarding safety: there are currently 12 Group companies in which a safety in the workplace management system has been implemented in compliance with the OHSAS 18001:2007 standard, including Acea SpA which obtained this acknowledgement during the year.

During the first quarter of 2011, as per the agreement reached at the end of 2010, the procedure for the winding-up of the “AceaElectrabel” joint venture with the partner Gdf Suez Energy Italia SpA in the electricity generation, trading and sales sectors was completed, leading Acea to acquire complete autonomy in the energy sector, with the establishment of a new industrial production and sales structure under its complete operational responsibility. The presence of the Group in the electricity sales sector was consolidated confirming the trend of constant growth in the segment of the free market, with an increase in the number of customers of 115% with respect to 2010; while with regard to the generation of energy, Acea is now focused on renewable sources and in particular on hydroelectric and photovoltaic power. The business plan in force for the whole of 2011, as well as the new one recently approved, contains elements attributable to the sustainable evolution of the businesses. On a consistent basis with these, projects have been implemented to optimise the operational management in the water area, with measures aimed at improving the set up of the networks and the functionality of all the infrastructures dedicated to the integrated water service which in 2011 saw a rise in volumes of both drinking water introduced onto the network and waste water treated. The plan for developing photovoltaic activities between 2010 and 2011 more than doubled the installed output and production. In the Environment sector, mention is made of the following: the progress of the work for modernising and enhancing the waste-toenergy plants, whose treatment capacity will emerge as considerably increased when fully up and running; the continuation of the authorisation processes for the launch of work for enhancing the compost production plants as well as the acquisition of the control over the company ISA, active in accessory waste management services. Furthermore, research projects continued during the year aimed at technological innovation, achieved in various sectors of operations; among these, some of primary importance have been implemented in relation to the operating excellence in electricity distribution (smart grids) that will be developed further over the next few years.

In conclusion, referring to the reading of the report introduced here for an accurate interpretation of the activities undertaken by the Group in the various industrial areas and in relation to the stakeholders, we would like to remark on the validity of the choice to direct company growth towards sustainable development criteria, which show preference for a balanced and long-lasting process.

 

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