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Edited Transcript of FHZN.S earnings conference call or presentation 27-Aug-19 8:00am GMT

Half Year 2019 Flughafen Zuerich AG Earnings Call

Zurich Sep 27, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Flughafen Zuerich AG earnings conference call or presentation Tuesday, August 27, 2019 at 8:00:00am GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Lukas Brosi

Flughafen Zürich AG - CFO, Chief Risk Officer & Member of Management Board

* Stephan Widrig

Flughafen Zürich AG - CEO & Member of Management Board

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Conference Call Participants

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* Cristian Nedelcu

UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Associate Director and Aerospace & Defence Analyst

* Nicolas J. Mora

Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Equity Analyst

* Pascal Furger

Bank Vontobel AG, Research Division - Analyst

* Philippe Sarreau

Pictet Asset Management Limited - Senior Investment Manager and Portfolio Manager

* Stephanie Fabienne D'Ath

RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - Analyst

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Flughafen Zürich AG Half Year Results 2019 Conference Call. I am Alessandro, the Chorus Call operator. (Operator Instructions) And the conference is being recorded. (Operator Instructions) The conference must not be recorded for publication or broadcast.

At this time, it's my pleasure to hand over to Mr. Stephan Widrig, CEO. You will be now joined into the conference room.

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Stephan Widrig, Flughafen Zürich AG - CEO & Member of Management Board [2]

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the presentation of Zürich Airport's Half Year Results 2019. I would like to remind that the analyst presentation is available on our web page, zurich-airport.com. My name is Stephan Widrig, I am the CEO of Zürich Airport, and I will host this conference call together with Lukas Brosi, our company's CFO. I will start with the business update, before our CFO will provide you with detailed information on our financial performance followed by the outlook. At the end, we will have enough time to answer your questions.

On Slide 3, you will find some of our highlights in the first 6 months of the year. A new passenger record was set in 2019. On July 28, we welcomed, for the first time, more than 115,000 passengers in one single day. Though it has become more challenging to handle the operations at peak hours, we are able to keep our quality promise and have recently been awarded, once again, with the most prestigious industry award as best airport in Europe.

During the first half year and in particular during the summer vacation period, we have seen the expected deceleration of passenger growth. Nevertheless, population growth, economic development and increasing internationalization are all driving a rising demand for global mobility going forward, so on slightly lower levels compared to the last years.

In June, the Swiss Federal Council made an important decision on the Ordinance on Airport Charges. With this, the framework for the upcoming tariff negotiations with our partners is clear. The economic parameters will, contrary to the initial regulated proposal, not be adjusted. We regret that there has not been an adjustment to the calculation formula for the allowed return due to the continuing low or even negative interest rate environment. On the other hand, we very much welcome that the percentage for the transfer payment will not be raised.

On the commercial side, changes in the offerings on air and land side combined with newly signed contracts have led to a higher-average concession rate and an increased use of digital channels supporting the airport's ambition to remain one of the leading commercial centers in a tough market.

THE CIRCLE project is progressing well and at the same time, we have started the planning of a new large-scale project to expand the landside passenger zone to accommodate future growth and offer additional shopping space.

During the last month, we have also tended out the advertising space at the airport. APG together with JCDecaux, were newly awarded with a contract starting in 2020. It is becoming more and more important to address different target groups with different offerings, and we believe that APG's innovative digital form of advertising can present products as well as services on a more individual basis combined with the international distribution network of JCDecaux. As a result, we expect to see slightly increasing advertising revenues as of next year.

And last, but not least, in March 2019, Flughafen Zürich AG was awarded the concession to operate 2 additional airports in Brazil: Vitória and Macaé. This marks a logical next step in our international strategy, and we look forward to adding those 2 additional airports to our portfolio.

On the next slide, on #4, you'll find a brief overview of the group key figures. In the first 6 months 2019, total passenger numbers grew by 2.4% to roughly 15 million. Our revenue increased to CHF 588 million, a plus of 8.8%, while both segments, aviation and nonaviation, were on a positive trend. In sum, Flughafen Zürich AG reported a profit of CHF 143 million for the first half of 2019. The same period in 2018 has been negatively impacted by additional provisions for sound insulation measures. After adjusting for this one-off effect, profit rose by 10.1%.

Let us now have a closer look on the aviation business on Slide #5. The number of local passengers rose by 1.1%, while transfer passengers recorded an increase of 5.7%. As a result, the proportion of transfer passengers went up from 28.4% to 29.3% compared with the prior year period. Markets in all regions performed well. While the European markets grew by 0.4%, the number of passengers heading for intercontinental destinations increased by 8.4%. The number of flight movements climbed to 0.9% to nearly 136,000 takeoffs and landings. Compared with the prior year period, the volume of freight handled at Zürich Airport fell by 7.5% to 226,000 tons. From a financial point of view, freight's revenues are rather marginal.

Moving on to the overview on the revision on the Ordinance of Airport Charges and the subsequent tariff setting process on Slide #6. In November 2018, the Swiss FOCA presented its proposal for a partial revision of the Ordinance on Airport Charges. The proposed changes aimed to substantially increase the cross-subsidy from the nonaviation to the aviation business segment. In June this year, the Swiss Federal Council at last decision body overruled the ministry to our advantage and adopted the revised ordinance. There is no increase in the transfer payment, 30% of the economic added value -- of the economic added value generated by our air-side commercial activities and car parking will continue to subsidize the regulated business.

On the other hand, our request to change the formula for calculating the return on investment capital due to the current low interest rates also remained unchanged. The revised ordinance will form the basis for the upcoming round of setting airport charges for the next regulatory period. We are now preparing the negotiation process with the airlines and expect an outcome of the negotiations next summer.

I will now move on to the nonaviation business and share some insights on the commercial business followed by an update on our strategic projects. On the commercial side, year-to-date performance was positive despite several changes and the refurbishment works in the commercial areas on air and landside. The strong Swiss franc environment and the trend to online shopping are facts that we share with every other commercial center in Switzerland. That said, Zürich Airport has some convincing U.S. piece for further growth in the commercial business.

First of all, frequencies, the main driver for commercial business, are increasing on land and on airside. Think about the additional, roughly, 6,000 employees in THE CIRCLE, who will generate additional footfall starting next year. Passengers continue to grow as well as commuters, since Zürich as a city is growing fastest in the north around the airport.

Secondly, shopping at the airport is convenient. We have been the largest shopping center in Switzerland with a good category mix in a premium environment for more than 1 year now.

Thirdly, the purchasing power of our passengers is high. As an example, high margin luxury goods, such as watches and jewelry, are still on a very positive trend.

And last, but not least, we are benefiting from favorable opening hours compared to traditional shopping malls in Switzerland since we are the only shopping center open on Sundays.

In conclusion, we are convinced that our airport remains the top destination for commercial offerings. Moreover, we are steadily adapting the mix of tenants to focus on our USP.

On Slide 8, you will find some of the latest new commercial concepts. On landside, our premium offering was strengthened with the Nespresso boutique plus the opening of a Globus Delicatessa and bar. For the first time in Switzerland, the British company, Pret A Manger, opened 4 locations at the airport, of which 1 is on landside and the remaining 3 on airside. Also, on airside, the new Rolex boutique recently opened. Furthermore, we have had several Hudson stores at the gates and linked them to the duty-free stores, which increases conversion rates. On top of that, in July, we have been able to add the boutique of an Atelier boutique, which offers beautifully crafted accessories for men as well as women and international fashion brand Moncler to our [daystuff] tenants.

On Slide 9, our commercial performance is shown. Total sales for retail outlets, duty-free shops and restaurant operators at Zürich Airport amounted to around CHF 286 million, an increase of 0.5%. In particular, as mentioned before, the luxury goods segment posted above average growth rates. Moreover, the targeted use of digital tenants enabled the growing number of travelers from Asia to be directly informed about offerings at Zürich Airport already ahead of their journey.

On landside, despite the impact of several remodeling projects during the first half of the year, turnover rose by roughly 1%. After the increase in the average concession rate in the financial year 2018, another remarkable rise of 0.8 percentage points to 22.3% was achieved in the first half of 2019 compared to the half year numbers of '18. While the increase last year was mainly attributable to the new duty-free contract, the increase in 2019 is the result of various renewed contracts on air and landside.

I continue with an update on THE CIRCLE on Slide #10. The building work is proceeding well. And our new service destination is on track to open in stages for mid '20. Good progress has been made in attracting tenants. Further rental contracts were signed during the first half of the year, including the new headquarter of the airline Edelweiss; the management consulting firm, Horváth & Partners; IT company, Inventx; and premium Swiss department store, Globus. Pre-letting since now is roughly 2/3 and the pipeline with interested tenants is still filled well.

With THE CIRCLE near to completion, and the construction of the new baggage handling system in full swing, the next large-scale project is in its planning phase, the expansion of our landside area. The projects involves the redesign of the landside passenger routes between railway, bus and trams, improving the landside and airside logistics, optimizing the underground link to THE CIRCLE and creating additional retail units and food hall to expand the airport's commercial offering.

The expansion of the landside area provides us with additional flexibility as well as capacity to get our infrastructure ready for up to 50 million passengers a year. The project planning of this project has started in June and the new landside passenger areas are scheduled to be fully completed in spring '25. In total, landside retail space is expected to grow by approximately 6,000 square meters at completion.

Slide 11 provides you with an update on our international operations. Following the public tendering process, Flughafen Zürich AG was awarded the concession to operate airports in Vitória and Macaé in Southeastern Brazil in March '19. Together, these airports handled some 3.2 million passengers in 2018. Under the terms of the 30-year concession, Flughafen Zürich AG is obliged to invest around CHF 80 million in expanding the airports in the coming years. It is expected that Vitória and Macaé will already contribute positively to the EBITDA in its first year of operations.

The new terminal at Florianópolis airport, our other project in Brazil, is on schedule to open at the beginning of October 2019. Including the 2 newly acquired airports, Flughafen Zürich AG is currently involved in the operations of 8 airports in Latin America.

With around CHF 8 million in half year '19, the international concessions contribute already positively to the EBITDA of the company. Due to high fixed costs and typically overcapacities in the first years, the margins are lower at the beginning of the concession and expected to increase substantially in due course. We are confident to reach at least a 10% IRR in real Swiss franc terms for our international portfolio.

With this, I'm handing over to Lukas.

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Lukas Brosi, Flughafen Zürich AG - CFO, Chief Risk Officer & Member of Management Board [3]

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Thank you, Stephan. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome also from my side. I will now give you an overview of the financial performance of the company. Revenue of the first 6 months in 2019 grew by 8.8% year-on-year to CHF 588 million. Factoring out the one-off effect in the prior year period, EBITDA improved by 2.2%. The EBITDA margin decreased to 51.6%. Factoring out the gross amounts of the concession accounting, the EBITDA margins stood at solid 55.9%. Profit in the first half of 2019 amounted to CHF 143 million. When adjusted for last year's one-off effect, profit was lifted year-on-year by 10.1%, driven by stronger operating performance, lower depreciation and amortization and the better finance results.

The aviation revenue breakdown is on Slide 14. Because of an increased share of transfer passengers, passenger-related charges grew disproportionately lower compared to passenger growth to CHF 209 million. On the back of more takeoffs and landings and higher average maximum takeoff weight, other flight operating charges grew by 1.8% to CHF 67 million. The positive trend in aviation fees and other aviation revenues, which increased by 5.6% to CHF 39 million is mainly attributable to higher deicing revenue. In sum, aviation revenue rose by 2.1% to CHF 315 million.

The nonaviation revenue breakdown is on Slide 15. Due to the high commercial turnover, in combination with an increase in the average concession rate, revenue from commercial and parking increased by 2.6% to CHF 121 million. The increase of CHF 2.2 million in earnings from facility management was mainly driven by higher revenue from rental agreements, which is also reflected in a lower vacancy rate. In particular, as a result of the expansion of the infrastructure in Florianópolis in Brazil, revenue from international airport business rose to CHF 68 million in the first half of 2019.

Let me remind you of IFRIC12, the so-called concession accounting rules. According to the International Reporting Standards, CapEx in our international concession has to be reflected in the P&L as revenue and operating costs at the same time. In total, this has a neutral impact on EBITDA. Nonaviation revenue increased in sum by 17.9% to CHF 273 million. Excluding IFRIC12, nonaviation revenue grew by 2.3%, with all segments on a positive strength.

Slide 16 gives you an overview of our operating costs. Personnel expenses for the reporting period rose by CHF 2.8 million to CHF 106 million, mainly because of a slightly higher headcount. Expenses for police and security increased only slightly by CHF 1.2 million to CHF 61 million. After adjusting for last year's one-off effect, operating expenses rose by 17% to CHF 284 million, primarily as a result of the development of the infrastructure in Florianópolis. Excluding concession accounting, operating expenses rose by 2.1%.

I will now outline some key figures on Slide 17. Net financial debt, excluding the Airport Zürich noise fund stands at nearly CHF 800 million, increasing the net debt-to-EBITDA ratio to 1.3x. We estimate the net debt-to-EBITDA ratio to go up to roughly 2x within the next years. The increase in leverage is mainly a result of additional international debt, CapEx peak in Zürich and the pay out of last additional dividend in 2020. Further, our EBITDA will be lower due to the lower aviation revenues reflecting the expected tariff adjustment at the end of 2020.

The return on invested capital stands at 9.3%, up by 0.8 percentage points compared to the prior year period. Major reason for this increase were the better operating performance as well as lower depreciation and amortization.

The operating cash flow was slightly higher compared to the prior year period. At the same time, the free cash flow has decreased because of higher CapEx in the reporting period.

To end the financial part of the presentation, let me give you some additional information on CapEx on Slide 18. In the period under review, Flughafen Zürich AG invested almost CHF 200 million in ongoing projects. This included, in particular, our share of the investment in THE CIRCLE of CHF 44 million, followed by the renewal of the baggage system and the upgrade of the power supply system. On top of that, the significant demand of approximately CHF 45 million was spent abroad in conjunction with the new terminal in Florianópolis.

With this, let's move on to the outlook. Let me first share some insights on traffic developments on Slide 20. While Swiss, Edelweiss and some [third] carriers have increased their offering for the current summertime table, there have been some reductions as well, mainly from the low-cost carrier segment. The dropped routes were mostly highly competitive and they are still served by other airlines.

Another aspect that currently limits the growth potential of some airlines is the 737 MAX grounding as the [wet] lease market has completely dried, some airlines can't operate the desired numbers of aircraft.

In 2020, Swiss will receive 2 additional Boeing 777 long-haul aircraft. The airline will use the new Boeings to increase the capacity on the routes to Tokyo from March 2020 and to Miami in summer 2020, replacing an A340 and A330 aircraft. These 2 aircraft will be in service on 2 new routes to Washington and Osaka. Since 2016, Zürich Airport has been connected to a total of 15 new long-haul destination, a remarkable number.

Before presenting the updated guidance for 2019, please find our midterm CapEx road map of Zürich and international on Slide 21. Because of the completion of THE CIRCLE, CapEx in Zürich will peak next year. Going forward, we expect to spend approximately CHF 300 million per year in Zürich, whereof the larger portion shall be in favor of the regulated business. Beside maintenance CapEx, the regulated CapEx is mainly life cycle and capacity driven and will allow to meet the demand we expect over the next decades.

Internationally, we will complete the new terminal in Florianópolis in the next months. After 2019, we expect to spend approximately CHF 80 million on our new assets in Brazil, mainly on the new runway in Macaé. These investments will not only impact the free cash flow, but also be subject to the IFRIC12 accounting rules.

Let me finish with the guidance for 2019. For a better understanding, we show the 2018 reference numbers on the left-hand side. The guidance 2019 remains mainly unchanged beside our expectation on passenger growth and CapEx in Zürich. Flughafen Zürich AG expects passenger growth of around 2% for the full year 2019.

After pretty solid start into 2019, growth slowed down earlier than initially expected. Aviation revenues will be driven by the volume growth. Please be aware that the number of flight movements usually does not rise as fast as passenger numbers and the passenger mix may change, too. Therefore, the increase in aviation revenues is typically slightly lower than the increase in passenger figures. Nonaviation revenues will benefit mainly from commercial contract renewals on our international activities.

International business will be the main driver for OpEx as well. Additionally, costs in Zürich are expected to be slightly higher too. Given the number of complex projects that need to be planned and executed in the upcoming years, the headcount will slightly increase. Please note that nonaviation revenues as well as OpEx will be impacted by the already mentioned concession accounting. However, this impact is EBITDA neutral.

Factoring out one-off effects, EBITDA is expected to be slightly higher, whereas net profit is still expected to be up by approximately 5%. Although the passenger guidance has to be reduced, net profit growth is expected to remain unchanged. This is mainly due to higher-than-anticipated gains on financial aspects of the Airport Zürich noise fund. Lastly, the company has earmarked around CHF 350 million for investments in 2019 in addition to various work to maintain the value of the airport infrastructure, the biggest investments are for THE CIRCLE.

With this, we would like to conclude the presentation, and I hand it back to Stephan.

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Stephan Widrig, Flughafen Zürich AG - CEO & Member of Management Board [4]

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Enough said. We now open the question-and-answer part of this presentation.

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Questions and Answers

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Stephan Widrig, Flughafen Zürich AG - CEO & Member of Management Board [1]

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(Operator Instructions) Who do we start the question round with?

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Operator [2]

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The first question comes from Pascal Furger from Vontobel.

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Pascal Furger, Bank Vontobel AG, Research Division - Analyst [3]

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Three questions from my side. So first one, on the CapEx guidance. Here, you lowered it to CHF 350 million. In particular you lowered your expectation for THE CIRCLE to CHF 110 million. Are there any delays there? And can you remind us how you set up the contracts? Is there a specific date when the contracts will start at THE CIRCLE?

This leads me to my second question. Here, you successfully improved preletting to 2/3. My question is, have you closed all contracts in line with expectations or did you give away any sort of rent incentives for those new contracts?

And then the last question is with regards to retail here. We saw a strong boost in concession margin to 22.3%. You mentioned several drivers. Could you just give a bit more granularity? How much is basically attributed to this new refurbished works and new concepts? How much is attributable to strong performance in luxury? And overall is this 22.3% sustainable concession margin in your view?

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Lukas Brosi, Flughafen Zürich AG - CFO, Chief Risk Officer & Member of Management Board [4]

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Pascal, please, let me start with answering your question, and Stephan can add. The CHF 350 million CapEx is the CapEx we expect this year in Zürich. There has been a reduction on THE CIRCLE, that's correct. At THE CIRCLE, we confirmed time lines, so there is no delay in THE CIRCLE. Please be aware that this can be always impacted by crews and deferrals, et cetera. So to answer your question, no, there is no delay in THE CIRCLE. THE CIRCLE is on track and the time line can be confirmed.

Contracts, which have been signed for THE CIRCLE are, yes, mostly in line with our expectations from the business plan. But there, to be very honest, we also are expecting a certain first-mover incentive. But overall it's -- we also can confirm that the economic conditions of this contract reflecting our business plan assumptions.

I think your last question was on retail. I think it's a quite balanced combination of all the drivers that you have mentioned. The 0.8% increase in the average concession rate is mainly driven by the renewal of contracts. And yes, I think that's a sustainable number. Although that the growth rate of the average concession accounting that we now have seen for 2 years being 0.8% on the half year numbers is not a trend that will continue; as this is -- last year, as Stephan has mentioned, driven by the duty-free contract and this year by, let's say, in some new contracts signed with better conditions. I think that the average concession can be following the trend to increase, but not on that magnitude that we have seen for the last 2 years.

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Stephan Widrig, Flughafen Zürich AG - CEO & Member of Management Board [5]

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I have nothing to add. I can only confirm that rental agreements signed for THE CIRCLE are all along the expectations we have in the business plan. So next question?

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Operator [6]

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Next question comes from Nicolas Mora with Morgan Stanley.

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Nicolas J. Mora, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Equity Analyst [7]

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Just to start up on -- can you explain a little bit why the D&A was so much lower in the nonregulated part of the business? That will be the first one.

And second one, on cost at Zürich, so they were 2.5% in the first half, you've continued to get for a small increase in the year. Are we on the right pace, 2.5%, for full year when you think you -- to take into account for the second half?

And then third question on international and M&A, you're flagging again Southeast Asia as an area of opportunities. Can you be maybe a little bit more specific as to what you are targeting at the moment? This will be the 3 questions.

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Lukas Brosi, Flughafen Zürich AG - CFO, Chief Risk Officer & Member of Management Board [8]

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Nicolas, yes. Let me start with depreciation and amortization by what is the impact of a low number that we have seen. It's basically -- it's mainly coming from the end of the depreciation cycle of certain infrastructure coming from the years 2001 to 2003 when we have constructed the largest expansion phase, excluding -- including airside center including the pier E. So this is something that we have expected and also have reflected in our guidance. So depreciation air and landside is the main driver behind that.

Costs in Zürich being 2.5% higher on half year base, I think that's sustainable also for the full year and might be also that we see a slightly higher -- slightly lower number than the 2.5% on the full year base, but also the costs side is on track with our expectations and on -- and it's on track on what we have guided at the beginning of the year.

And in terms of the international pipeline, we're still focusing on our focus area being Latin America, being Asia and Latin America with the award of 2 additional airports. The focus is mainly in the startup of the operations. We will take over the 2 airports at -- in December or January the latest. So the focus of the resources there is on the completion of the terminal and on -- and the startup of the new airports. But nevertheless, we see also next privatization round in Brazil that we definitely will have a look at.

And in Asia, there, in particular, on our focus markets being mainly India, Indonesia, we see lot of activities in the project pipeline of the next months. We see the new airports in India of the next privatization route, but also second airport to Delhi; which are projects, which, I think, under attractive concession conditions that are in line with our strategy. And also in Indonesia, we see 2 projects for the next 6 months that might materialize where we have a closer look at.

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Nicolas J. Mora, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Equity Analyst [9]

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Okay. And if I may, just on Brazil, on Vitória, Macaé, you've -- I mean, you might have seen that Aena called for a few exceptional costs in the second half when they get their own bundle of airports ready. I mean are you expecting also some substantial one-offs to be charged in the second half, so redundancy and other costs to be paid to Infraero.

And last one on traffic, your revised guidance to 2%, I think you -- I mean you know that the seat capacity are turning negative for -- actually from now until the end of the year. Isn't 2% a little bit on the high end of what we could expect?

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Lukas Brosi, Flughafen Zürich AG - CFO, Chief Risk Officer & Member of Management Board [10]

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Well, first on the one-off cost for the startup in Vitória and Macaé, we obviously have calculated certain start-up costs in the business plan by preparing a bit, and we expect here a low single-digit million number that is reflected in our forecast and in our guidance. And on traffic, we now have completed summer vacation, which has the highest passenger numbers. We also see in bookings for the next occasion in autumn -- quite good situation, so I don't think that we are on the aggressive side with the 2% guidance.

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Operator [11]

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Your next question comes from Cristian Nedelcu with UBS.

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Lukas Brosi, Flughafen Zürich AG - CFO, Chief Risk Officer & Member of Management Board [12]

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Cristian?

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Cristian Nedelcu, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Associate Director and Aerospace & Defence Analyst [13]

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Hello, can you hear me?

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Stephan Widrig, Flughafen Zürich AG - CEO & Member of Management Board [14]

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Yes.

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Cristian Nedelcu, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Associate Director and Aerospace & Defence Analyst [15]

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Hello, sir, apologies. This is Cristian Nedelcu from UBS. Three, if I may. The first one on the dividend, on the mid-term, there is quite a wide range of expectations of the level of the dividend from CHF 4.5 going to CHF 7 among the sell side and buy side analysts. Could you maybe help us narrow a little bit that range and eventually if you can mention which are the factors that you are considering going forward when you are setting the potential base for the progressive dividend?

Secondly, and I come back to the previous question, on the retail concession rate, again, a strong performance in the first half that you explained. My question is, if the environment, overall spend environment over the next 3 years continues to be difficult with declines in airside spend, I'm trying to understand how much more support you can get from the concession rate on the one hand but also from the minimum owner guarantees that you have in place? I don't know if you can provide us a bit more details on the help that you get from these 2 levers?

And the last question, if I may, just looking at the financial link I think the CHF 6.4 million, the fair value adjustment in the noise fund, if you can, please, give us a bit more detail exactly what triggered that?

And equally so I understand from your guidance, depreciation is expected to be lower year-over-year, and I think in the first half of the year depreciation charges were roughly CHF 8 million lower, so should we assume a sort of similar dynamic for the second half of the year? If you can provide any more color on this point, please?

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Lukas Brosi, Flughafen Zürich AG - CFO, Chief Risk Officer & Member of Management Board [16]

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Well, starting with dividend. So the current dividend policy is confirmed. We have informed with the full year results in March that we tend to pay out the last additional dividend next year. And also from a tactical point of view, I think we still are not with the beginning of the year of the tariff negotiation. We won't have this topic to be communicated most likely with the full year results in March next year in terms of an adoption of the dividend strategy. What I also have said in March is that, in general, I think the management and the Board intends to pursue an attractive dividend policy, even after the capital contribution reserve will be depleted and the additional dividend will be stopped.

On the other hand, our profit is estimated to be more volatile in the future and not only because of the tariff topic, but also because of the increasing importance of the international business. So one thing that we currently are thinking about is like decoupling of the dividend from the profit. So assuming positive course of the business, the object will be to have a small constant ordinary dividend increase instead of a dividend linked to profit. But this is like more thinking out loud than anything has to be decided on that. In terms of the range, I think, the upper end, so being a rollover of the additional dividend becoming an ordinary dividend in my view is too aggressive.

But the main question, if you would change the model of the dividend payout is the starting point. So I think, the conservative end is like taking the starting point of the last ordinary dividend and most likely something in between, which we don't want to communicate at that stage.

On commercial -- on your commercial question, I think that on -- particularly on airside, nevertheless, the increase in passenger is lower than what we have seen over the last years; but nevertheless it's still growing, especially in the transfer market, which also is an important segment for the airside commercial activities.

We do not comment on details, minimum guarantees, individual concession rates on individual contracts. But nevertheless, we -- as Stephan has mentioned in terms of the USP, we are in a favorable situation as the footprint is given, the underlying drivers are still growing. So this makes me at least positive that for also in the future maturing contracts that we are in a positive situation in dealing the concession terms of the contract.

Fair value of noise fund is something that's not really under our own control. We have seen a loss in the finance result last year of CHF 6 million -- roughly CHF 6 million, and a profit this year. At this volatility comes from a -- from basically the market developments where we have invested the noise fund, the noise fund is mainly invested in debentures, but partly also in equities and listed real estate. So whatever happens to the market, we have to recognize that in the fair value that it gives us a little bit more volatility in the finance result.

And depreciation, yes, the trend -- or the -- we can confirm that for the full year, we will -- also as we have guided being on lower depreciation.

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Stephan Widrig, Flughafen Zürich AG - CEO & Member of Management Board [17]

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Maybe one addition from my side on the mid-term outlook on retail sales. Since we have this increasing importance of online sales, we still are convinced that when you see, for example, watches or even luxury goods being sold online, they remain very important to be shown to the consumer before they are purchased. And airports are the logical place to show such luxury goods, which means that we have a certain shift from sales to marketing income on showing these products.

And that means for us also that our structure of retail contract shifts a little back from a pure revenue share model to a bigger importance of fixed rental income, again, due to this change from sales to marketing. And this has also been reflected, of course, in the newer contracts that the assurance on a fixed income is higher than in the past and it will also be a trend in the future, in my view.

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Cristian Nedelcu, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Associate Director and Aerospace & Defence Analyst [18]

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Is it possible to have one more question, please? On the CapEx side of the international -- on the international side of the business, I think you've spent CHF 45 million in the first half. Can you give us an indication for the full year in international; equally so for 2020 maybe for both Zürich where you mentioned, I believe, in the slide that is the year of peak CapEx as well as for international. Any color that you can provide at this stage?

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Lukas Brosi, Flughafen Zürich AG - CFO, Chief Risk Officer & Member of Management Board [19]

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Well, from today's point of view, next year in Zürich, we will be, I would say, closer to CHF 400 million in that area if -- the international business will be definitely lower as the construction for the terminal in Florianópolis comes to an end, we expect for the full year 2019 roughly CHF 80 million, referring to the number that you see in the concession accounting. So another roughly CHF 35 million in the second half. And then international investments will be lower, as we have guided on the slide, that we expect over the next year only CHF 80 million in total to be spent for the new airports.

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Operator [20]

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Your next question comes from Stephanie D'Ath from RBC Capital Markets.

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Stephanie Fabienne D'Ath, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - Analyst [21]

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I have three questions, please. The first one is on your expected tariff cuts next year following the regulatory announcement from June. You had previously guided for, I think, 20-plus percent cuts assuming cuts due to rate increase. Could you please let us know what your expectations are now just based on the decline?

My second question is on traffic after the tariff cut. So you mentioned that some of the local carriers had pulled some capacity out and -- would you expect -- are you in discussions with them to encourage them to create volume growth next year after your targets have become more attractive?

And then my third question is on the concession rate. We saw 80 basis points improvement in the first half. You said we shouldn't extrapolate that for the coming years, but is that a good range for this year's overall improvement on this concession rate?

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Lukas Brosi, Flughafen Zürich AG - CFO, Chief Risk Officer & Member of Management Board [22]

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First on tariff cuts, as we start the negotiation process with the airlines, we are not giving like a more concrete guidance on our expectations. I think the market is pricing in a certain decrease, obviously, but no more information mainly from tactical point of view from our side. Please be aware that the tariff decrease will only be partly relevant for the next financial year as I think the earliest timing is end -- close to the end of next year.

In the long term, we expect and we could confirm still our medium- to long-term guidance of 2% to 3% volume growth in Zürich. And even your question regarding, is there any incentive, so similar for low-cost carriers something that from the model of the tariffs we are now going into the discussions with the airlines. So unfortunately not really more color on this from our side.

And your last question was on the concession of the commercial, if I understood correctly, if this trend can be assumed to continue. Yes, as mentioned earlier, I still think that the average concession rate can be increased as a trend going forward, but not in the magnitude as we have seen for the last 2 years as this has some particular reason that we have explained.

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Stephan Widrig, Flughafen Zürich AG - CEO & Member of Management Board [23]

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Fine for you, Stephanie?

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Stephanie Fabienne D'Ath, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - Analyst [24]

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Yes. My question on the concession rate was just for the second half, if we could expect the same improvement as in the first half rather than in the coming years?

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Lukas Brosi, Flughafen Zürich AG - CFO, Chief Risk Officer & Member of Management Board [25]

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Yes. So we could confirm that the full year effect is similar to what we see in the half year, yes.

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Operator [26]

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(Operator Instructions) The next question comes from Philippe Sarreau from Pictet.

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Philippe Sarreau, Pictet Asset Management Limited - Senior Investment Manager and Portfolio Manager [27]

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I have a question on the regulation and on this passenger tax, which is being discussed in Parliament today in Switzerland, which is CHF 3,220 per passenger. How -- maybe could you comment on this. What do you think the likelihood this is implemented today in Switzerland? And what do you think the impact would be on your traffic?

And then second question on THE CIRCLE, you mentioned you had 66% preletting today, which is better than the 60% you had in the first half. But isn't it that your target to start was closer to 70% to 75%, and we're now kind of couple of quarters ahead of the launch, or are you not kind of tracking behind this -- your metrics here?

And then the last question is just the precision, you mentioned target for net debt-to-EBITDA earlier on during the call, I did not really catch it, you talked about 2x net debt-to-EBITDA as the target once the concession charges have been reset, could you just maybe elaborate on this as well?

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Stephan Widrig, Flughafen Zürich AG - CEO & Member of Management Board [28]

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I'll start with the first question on regulation. Philippe was referring to a climate tax that is maybe introduced in Switzerland. There is still, I would say, a 2-year legislative process with public quotation on that coming on, so it's nothing in the short term. We are quite convinced that this climate tax will not have an impact on traffic as such. We see, for example, Germany levied the tax in a similar amount a few years ago, which did not really have an impact on traffic. So we don't think it's -- it has an impact on our traffic. We are still opposing it because at the end it's fiscal tax result using the money to make aviation greener, but it's not the core issue for us in terms of business.

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Lukas Brosi, Flughafen Zürich AG - CFO, Chief Risk Officer & Member of Management Board [29]

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In terms of the preletting of THE CIRCLE, we are quite happy with the progress. The target of the opening was always being in an area of 75% to 80% preletting, and this is something that we see achievable from today's point of view.

And I think much more crucial than the percentage number at certain stage is also the mix of tenants and also on what conditions this contract has been signed. And we are very disciplined with incentives, which in my view, is rather more important than showing a high preletting quote a year before the opening of THE CIRCLE. Also in my view, so the target at the opening can be confirmed and also the mix of the tenant is correct and also the target set by the business plan may be achieved. So overall, and also with -- at the current stage being at 2/3 of preletting, we are quite happy with the success.

And in terms of the net debt, it's not the target to be at 2x net debt-to-EBITDA. This is something -- this is likely combination of what we see this ratio goes to. As I mentioned, increasing debt from international business, CapEx peak in Zürich and the additional dividend paid out last year, and also reflecting the base of the EBITDA will be lower from the tariff cut.

And if you take this all together, we will see a net debt-to-EBITDA ratio of roughly 2x in the next 2 years to materialize. We have maybe earlier said that [the target] in that sense of 3x net debt-to-EBITDA is something that can be realistic once international business has more projects and importance in terms of the spending and in terms of the leverage. But from the ongoing business, my message is that we also see an increase in net debt.

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Philippe Sarreau, Pictet Asset Management Limited - Senior Investment Manager and Portfolio Manager [30]

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Just maybe as a decision on the climate tax, which is being floated, is about CHF 3,220. What's the average ticket price in Zürich Airport today? How much will it be compared to the existing ticket price?

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Stephan Widrig, Flughafen Zürich AG - CEO & Member of Management Board [31]

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We don't monitor average ticket prices of the airlines. I can't give you a figure on that.

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Philippe Sarreau, Pictet Asset Management Limited - Senior Investment Manager and Portfolio Manager [32]

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So you don't have any idea of how much will it impact through elasticity to price as kind of...

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Stephan Widrig, Flughafen Zürich AG - CEO & Member of Management Board [33]

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Well, the best -- I would still recommend the best thing to analyze is since a similar amount has been introduced in Germany 2, 3 years ago, there you can see the elasticity of a fiscal or climate tax and we can't see anything there. So that's probably the...

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Philippe Sarreau, Pictet Asset Management Limited - Senior Investment Manager and Portfolio Manager [34]

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Was it as high as CHF 3,220? Because in France they have floated one and they are talking about much lower number, it's like in the 1 or 2, it's not even 2-digit numbers?

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Stephan Widrig, Flughafen Zürich AG - CEO & Member of Management Board [35]

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Yes. I mean it's not yet defined in detail what will be the tax for European traffic, what will be the differentiation between business and economy. But the bill that is currently discussed clearly says that the bill may not have an impact on the long distance network of Swiss in its competitiveness. So this has to be also taken into consideration when defining the details. In general, the tax planned is substantially higher than in France and very slightly higher than the fiscal tax that has been introduced in Germany a few years ago.

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Operator [36]

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Ladies and gentlemen, there are no more questions at this time.

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Lukas Brosi, Flughafen Zürich AG - CFO, Chief Risk Officer & Member of Management Board [37]

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So thank you very much for your interest. Have a good day.

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Stephan Widrig, Flughafen Zürich AG - CEO & Member of Management Board [38]

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Thank you.

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Operator [39]

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Ladies and gentlemen, the conference is now over. Thank you for choosing Chorus Call, and thank you for participating in the conference. You may now disconnect your lines. Goodbye.