The Seville-based engineering multinational Ghenova closed the 2020 financial year with a turnover of €26 million, down just 5% from the €27 million in sales it had in 2019 and above the €24 million it turned over in 2018, the two consecutive years in which it had set records in its results.
Although the drop in business is low, taking into account the difficulties that the pandemic has generated for Ghenova, as for the entire business fabric, the Ebitda for 2020 was negative, although the figure was small: 60,000 euros, as confirmed by its CEO, Francisco Cuervas.
“The diversification of our businesses is what has allowed us to maintain a high level of sales in 2020,” explains Cuervas, “despite the consequences that Covid-19 has had for our company.”
The order book also closed with positive figures, reaching 29.7 million euros.
The also co-owner of the company, together with his partners Carlos Alejo and Raúl Arévalo, maintains that the pandemic did not cause the loss of any contract, but it did paralyze new orders in the commercial naval engineering business, where they are active in the construction of new cruise ships for clients all over Europe and in different shipyards. “The commercial shipbuilding business is the one that has suffered the most due to the drop in productivity”, admits Cuervas, who adds: “The year 2020 started with a good launch in the first quarter, but Covid-19 and its consequences paralyzed the activity in the second quarter and it did not start to recover until the third quarter, to return to normal numbers in the fourth quarter”.
In the first months of 2021, even contracts for new cruise ships have come in, the CEO stressed.
The Defense naval engineering business, in which Ghenova is a benchmark throughout Europe, has been countercyclical and had a positive evolution in 2020, as highlighted by Cuervas, who recalled that they have participated in the Navantia contract for the Saudi Arabian corvettes, as well as the development of the F-110 frigates, “which has given workload to our centers in El Puerto de Santa María and Ferrol. “In this business, expectations are good for 2021,” Cuervas predicts.
The digital business also performed well. Soologic, in which Ghenova has a stake, continued to grow, albeit at a slower rate than initially forecast for 2020. The cybersecurity business, which was expanded in 2020 with the acquisition of 50% of Beonsec, also posted double-digit growth.
Another digital business with good results is the one generated by the parent company itself to develop digital twins of the ships or infrastructures designed by the engineers. This line of business, called Ghenova 360, has in Cuervas’ opinion a promising future, as it has an impact on the implementation of predictive behavior that allows action to be taken before problems occur. “With the digital twin we are able to see what needs to be done before it causes a problem and make it coincide, for example, with the scheduled stops of a ship,” he says.
The digital business has just grown with the purchase of Perama Ingeniería, a company specialized in maintenance engineering and asset management software (Asset Managment SW). Through this company, they want to expand predictive maintenance to be applied to all sectors and not only in ships.
Investees related to the renewable energy segment are also showing a positive evolution. On the one hand, Enerocean, the Malaga-based company in which Ghenova has increased its stake to 6% and which has developed the V2Power project, the first floating platform that supports two wind generators of 6 megawatts each, and which is going to install its first marine farm in Canary Islands waters.
Bluesolar, the patent developed together with Capsun to create plants that combine photovoltaic and solar thermal generation, is also making progress. The contract for the first pilot plant, for which locations are being considered in Puertollano (Ciudad Real) or in one of the Andalusian provinces, has yet to be signed.
In terms of territories, the start-up of the Madrid office is considered a success, as it has been able to bring in business worth 1.4 million, especially in the energy segment.
Colombia, where the subsidiary was created at the end of 2019, has almost doubled its staff and is contributing business in the naval and energy segments. Bolivia, despite the political turbulence in addition to Covid, has continued to contribute business to the infrastructure segment. Brazil is also doing well, following the renewal of the agreement with the Brazilian Navy. In Australia, the waste recovery business is also doing well, another of the group’s commitments in energy, and the shipbuilding business, after overcoming the difficulties in creating the structure generated by Covid.
By 2021, Ghenova intends to recover the turnover levels of 2019 and to undertake a corporate and commercial reorganization to simplify the structure of the group, both in subsidiaries and investees. This reorganization is also undertaken in case in the medium term there is a need for capital to undertake inorganic growth. The approach would be an agreement with an investor that would remain for a period of two or three years with a guaranteed return.