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Edited Transcript of SGEF.PA earnings conference call or presentation 31-Jul-20 8:30am GMT

Half Year 2020 Vinci SA Earnings Call

Rueil-Malmaison Cedex Aug 1, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Vinci SA earnings conference call or presentation Friday, July 31, 2020 at 8:30:00am GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Arnaud Palliez

VINCI SA - Senior Vice-President of IR

* Christian Labeyrie

VINCI SA - CFO & Executive VP

* Gregoire Thibault

VINCI SA - Group Director of IR & Financial Communications

* Jérôme Stubler

VINCI SA - Chairman of VINCI Construction

* Nicolas Dominique Notebaert

VINCI SA - CEO of VINCI Concessions

* Pierre Coppey

VINCI SA - EVP

* Xavier M. P. Huillard

VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO

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Conference Call Participants

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* Elodie Rall

JPMorgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Gregor Kuglitsch

UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Executive Director, Head of European Building & Construction Research and Equity Research Analyst

* Jean-Christophe Lefèvre-Moulenq

CIC Market Solutions (ESN), Research Division - Financial Analyst & Sector Coordinator

* Josep Pujal

Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Co-Head of Sustainability Research & Responsible Investment

* Nabil Ahmed

Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Head of European Construction, Building Materials and Infrastructure Equity Research

* Nicolas J. Mora

Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Equity Analyst

* Tobias Alfred Woerner

MainFirst Bank AG, Research Division - Research Analyst

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Presentation

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [1]

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[Interpreted] Thanks for joining us for this audio conference. You probably found on our website the presentation that will serve as background material to what we have to say. We are here at our head office in Rueil-Malmaison. I'm joined by the major Chief Executives of the rest of businesses, who'll be able to answer your question in due course. And Christian Labeyrie, tomorrow, he's celebrating his 31 years in the company. And he plans to be the halfway mark in his career with us.

On Slides 12 and 13. It will come as no surprise to you, we were heavily hit by this pandemic that impacted without exceptional our businesses and all our geographies, but as we'll see with varying reactions, depending on the country.

First of all, I'd like once again to thank our people. They're many in number, France and abroad, who rallied during the lockdown phases. Clearly, their commitment that allowed us to continue to operate our companies. Thank you, in particular, to our colleagues from motorways, airports, railways who already ensured, in an exemplary manner, their public service mission. Thanks to our maintenance and works teams who ensured that the energy, water, communications networks operated smoothly and also called upon to set up field hospitals and new hospital facilities. My thanks to all those who rallied to organize and implement on numerous solidarity initiatives, actions that were there to support those who are in the front line, but also to assist the most vulnerable people. We have to continue because we've all understood that this crisis will indeed weaken people who are already in a vulnerable situation.

So we have always believed that VINCI and the strength of civic engagement and the wave of exceptional solidarity prompted by this crisis has shown that it is indeed a shared conviction, a conviction that leads to supportive acts of solidarity in every level in the group and, first and foremost, on the ground.

Turning now to the business. Well, the impact on the business was almost immediate. It was massive. Mid-March, motorway traffic plummeted by 80%. Passenger traffic in our airports were reduced almost to 0. And the works Contracting business reacted very differently depending on the country. For example, almost total halt in France, but business close to normal in Germany. And government departments shut down for the most part, in France.

In particular, the urban planning departments that staff planning permission require service leads to a difficult first half. Revenue down 15%, and EBITDA remains positive but sharply down, and net income posting a loss of EUR 294 million. What is, however, remarkable and, in fact, impressed us very favorably is the way our working capital held up so well as well as our free cash flow, which, as you can see on Slide 12, 13, leads to a sharp reduction of over EUR 2 billion of our net debt over a year.

So our foremost priority at the start of the crisis was to ensure our people and projects were safe. You can't just stop a project at the drop of a hat. You have to think about shutting down a job site before going ahead with it. And then we put in place business continuity plans so as to ensure our public service assignments across our various concessions, assets ensure an excellent level of liquidity because at the start of the crisis, no one could predict. Today it's still the case, but we see a little clearer than we could. Back in mid-March, no one could predict whether the crisis was going to last a long time.

And very swiftly, we began to consider a resumption in activity by joining up in countries with government departments and the unions guides, such as in France, the OPPBTP guide, to organize, not just the recovery, but it's very important for the future to work under COVID because no one knows when this pandemic is going to disappear naturally or when we'll have an effective vaccine.

And we swiftly reviewed all ways of cutting expenditure, partial activity in France and equivalent system in many other countries, reduction in temporary personnel, a halt to all spending not strictly necessary, sharp reduction in CapEx and billing and recovery of outstanding receivables. The recovery is there across our businesses, but still very slow in airports, more about that in a moment, owing to the restrictions put in place by many countries.

Now the way in which countries responded to the crisis is clearly shown on the next slide, Slide 14. You see that France is down 23% on the half, whereas the rest of Europe only declined by 4% or 5%. South America and the part of the continent where we're established, that's to say Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia, that area of the world is also sharply down. But on the other hand, North America continued to grow. And that's the positive impact of contracts signed previously and notably in 2019 by Eurovia and VINCI Construction. Africa is more uncertain. It went slightly better than in France during the first half. Today, the situation is more challenging.

Slide 15, we're beginning now to go a deeper dive. VINCI Autoroutes got off to a good start to the year. Traffic increased, up 4.8% between the 1st of January and the beginning of the lockdown in France on the 17th of March. Traffic then collapsed, as I said, decline of 87% light vehicle, 36% for heavy vehicles. And since the end of lockdown, gradual recovery that accelerated when the 100-kilometer constraint was lifted. Now I'll tell you later where we're at as we speak.

At VINCI Airports, we saw the wave coming, thanks to our forward vantage points of our airports in Cambodia and Japan because we all saw that the wave came from that direction. Very swiftly, traffic stopped just about everywhere as of mid-March through end of May. And since the end of May, there's a slow recovery in traffic, firstly, domestic; and then for Europe, the Schengen area.

As of June, big effort at VINCI Airports on spending and CapEx, but it didn't prevent us from continuing for most strategic work sites for the future at Sihanoukville; in France, with the runways at To-Lyon, Rennes and Belgrade, Serbia; Santiago where, in fact, the construction site never stopped in spite of heavy disruptions locally pre-COVID; and then Japan, Osaka, where we're inauguring of course, remotely on the 5th of August, that's next week. The most important renovation of the historic airport at Osaka Itami, the most important renovation for 50 years. It's important to say because it's a sign of trust and confidence in these difficult times.

Contracting, good news. Order intake, particularly strong at VINCI Construction with the HS2 line in the U.K. And France, The Link project, which will be the new head office at Total, La Défense, and several contracts for the Greater Paris express.

Slide 18, very good resilience posted by VINCI Energies that worked particularly well during the half in Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia. All in all, limited reduction, 4%, and that's in spite a more significant declines, minus 10% in France. Also declines in the U.S. because we're pretty well established in the New York Area. Singapore, where we continue to work, but with slower work rates given COVID issues, notably the housing facilities for a number of migrant workers in Singapore. In Africa, it didn't prevent VINCI Energies to continue to acquire new companies, a dozen of all sizes, in the first half for additional revenue full year of some EUR 200 million.

Slide 19, very good responsiveness by Eurovia to adapt to the crisis and prepare the recovery, which is the case as in other Contracting businesses, declined far more significant in France than most of the other countries, with some countries such as the U.S., Germany or the Czech Republic, but over the half posted a growth over last year.

VINCI Construction, Slide 20. Ditto, same contrast, depending on the country, minus 27% in France but only minus 5.5% outside France, particular difficulties with Entrepose Contracting that's been suffering from a few years now, of an oil and gas market heavily depressed. Things haven't improved, notably after the very sharp fall in the price of oil started a few months ago.

VINCI Construction projects were often these as in the construction and whose human density is stronger than at VINCI Energies and Eurovia. There are more workers and people involved in same project with multi-activity, many different trades. And so we have to work long and hard to plan the recovery. We think our job sites with sometimes staggered working hours to avoid too many people together at one time with one-way flows so that people don't come too close. We had to readapt changing rooms and shower areas so as to comply with social distancing, with very detailed reorganization of each and every workstation. All that to strictly comply with the health regulations, and notably social distancing.

As I said, we took full advantage of the period to acquire several major projects, those already mentioned. That accounts for the record level of order intake on Slide 17 that I showed you, which is obviously most welcome on the eve of the economic phase of this crisis.

Slide 21. Real estate property development got off to a good start to the year. Both residential as well as commercial property went through a difficult phase. Work sites halted. Almost total absence booking of residential during the lockdown phase, minus 48% over the half, but also a freeze on the staffing, planning permission, which will pose a supply problem. That's really a pity because the demand for residential is once again strong. If we look at everything that includes block sales to institutional investors, July bookings to date are up 17% over last year. So we're catching up, not fully, of course, but partially. The delay that occurred during the lockdown phase when there were no bookings, we must project and accelerate the emergence of new programs so as to have as soon as possible, hopefully, at the end of the year, a offering to meet the very strong residential demand.

I'm now going to hand over to Christian. As per usual, I'll come back in due course to tell you about the future.

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Christian Labeyrie, VINCI SA - CFO & Executive VP [2]

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[Interpreted] Thank you, Xavier. So looking at Slide 23, which shows, as has already been said, that revenue declined in the first half by 15%, where the sharper drop in Concessions down 32% and in the Contracting business, which was down 11%.

At constant scope and foreign exchange, the decline in revenue comes out at minus 17%, of which minus 37% for Concessions and just over 12% in Contracting. The scope effect in the Concessions reflects the inclusion for the first half as a whole of the revenue from Gatwick, which was included in the financial statements in May of 2019.

In Contracting, the new entries concern acquisitions by VINCI Energies, mainly in Europe as well as VINCI Construction and excavation. These scope changes account for additional revenue of approximately EUR 600 million for the first half. Regarding currency variation, this was only minor because the euro -- while the euro fell versus specific currencies, such as the dollar, in fact, it was up versus other European countries as well as Latin American currencies and the Australian and New Zealand dollar.

Slide 24 shows the decline in first half revenue was far sharper in France, almost minus 23%. And for the international business, down 5% at constant scope and minus 10% like-on-like. This reflects the complete standstill of most of our business in France for a month from the beginning of lockdown on 17th of March. And therefore, as Xavier has pointed out, revenue outside France in the first half accounts for 49% of total revenue versus 44% for the first half of 2019. This 49% will probably decline somewhat in the second half for the year as a whole because the second half will show that business in France is almost back to normal, apart from our airport business.

As Xavier has underlined, the decline in revenue in the first half had a major impact on the profitability of all of our business because we were unable to adjust in real-time our cost to reflect the declining business. This is particularly true for the business in Concessions, motorways and airports, where costs are, for the most part, fixed costs. However, the Contracting business also suffered from major decline in their contribution due to the fact that it was impossible to cover all the structural costs, personnel and equipment.

EBIT was down by EUR 2 billion for the first half but is still positive, thanks to the contribution from VINCI Autoroutes and VINCI Energies. And you can see from the slide, of course, the COVID impact was emphasized by seasonal factors. And therefore, the margins that you see for the first half do not reflect the margin forecast for the year as a whole. This is particularly true for Eurovia, whose income is mainly generated in the second half of the year.

Now moving on to Slide 26. We are looking at the income statement. A strong decline in the contribution of companies accounted for under the equity method due mainly to the holdings in VINCI Airports, VINCI Airports in the Kansai and Aéroports de Paris airports; and nonrecurring net charge of almost EUR 120 million, reflecting depreciation of goodwill as well as intangible and tangible assets and a restructuring charge in our oil and gas business.

The financial result is virtually stable. On the one hand, the cost of debt to the group has declined, thereby offsetting, to a large extent, the impact of the consolidation of Gatwick Airport for the whole of the first half; and also a strong decline in our tax charge, reflecting the decline in net income; a positive contribution of minority interest reflecting our share from partners in -- or shares in some consolidated subsidiaries; and also, a net income -- net loss of EUR 294 million versus a net profit of EUR 1.36 billion in the first half of 2019.

Slide 27. The situation is more encouraging than for the income statement. Free cash flow, which measures the group's performance in terms of cash generation for the period under review, is down by a mere EUR 500 million versus the first half of 2019, which is due to, first of all, EBITDA of EUR 1.8 billion, down 50% on last year; and a variation in working capital requirements and current provisions of almost EUR 500 million, whilst it was negative to the tune of almost EUR 1.4 billion in the first half of 2019.

Lockdown, in this regard, had a positive impact because while disbursements were limited due to the low level of activity, customer payments were significant due to a strong start to the year and also to the collection of long-standing receivables where a major effort was made. Payments for tax and interest expense were up due to the adjustment versus the entries for -- and also that we had a leftover from the CICE government subsidy.

Operating CapEx was more or less stable. Part of the investment had already been launched before COVID and, therefore, could not be stopped abruptly. And also, this item includes investment underway for the construction of the new head office of VINCI at Nanterre, which has been ramped up since early 2019.

Finally, investment for our London Gatwick included for the whole of the first half as opposed to 2019. Investment in Concessions are slightly up in 2019. This involves investments launched by VINCI Autoroutes such as the Strasbourg bypass and VINCI Airports, mainly in Cambodia, Serbia and Portugal.

Regarding acquisitions. There were very few acquisitions in the first half of 2020, approximately EUR 100 million, involving approximately a dozen companies that have been mentioned previously by VINCI Energies, mainly in Europe.

Regarding cash disbursement for dividends and share buybacks, this was very limited compared to 2019 further to the downward revision of the amount of the remaining dividend payment for 2019 and its postponement to July, most of which was paid out in new shares.

Financial debt came out at EUR 22.1 billion at 30th of June versus a moderate rise of EUR 400 million for the first half and down by over EUR 2 billion compared to 30th of June 2019.

Now moving on to the balance sheet. Notwithstanding exceptional difficulties encountered in the first half, the balance sheet of VINCI remains extremely strong, particularly while we're looking at the past 12 months. Capital employed, down EUR 1.7 billion, mainly due to the improvement in WCR. Shareholder equity, excluding minority interest, is stable. Our noncurrent provisions are up by EUR 200 million. And financial debt, down by EUR 2.2 billion.

Slide 29. We redeemed loans maturing for a total of EUR 1.6 billion; a bond issue of EUR 750 million issued by VINCI SA in 2012, with a 3.4% coupon redeemed in March; and a bond issue of EUR 650 million issued by ASF in 2010, with a coupon of 4.1% and was redeemed in April. And in May, with appropriate market conditions, we were able to issue a new bond issue for Cofiroute for EUR 950 million with a coupon maturing in May 2031 with coupon of 1% only. This issue continues to the favorable debt schedule. You'll see this in the annexes. It has an average maturity of 8 years. And you will note that we do not have to redeem in any one given year of more than EUR 2.5 billion, which is very reasonable given our cash flow.

Furthermore, average cost of our debt comes down at 2.3% for the first half versus 2.4% for 2019. As a whole, at 30th of June, it was less than, but we did not have the impact of Gatwick at that time.

We have seen during the crisis that the rating of VINCI is very well regarded by investors. Our long-term credit ratings are A- with S&P and A3 with Moody's, and both have been confirmed with a stable outlook, reflecting the strength of our concessionaire constructor model, our diversification in terms of businesses and geographies and the prudence of our financial management.

As we repeat regularly at these meetings, we place great importance at VINCI's on liquidity, meaning our ability to very rapidly raise significant amounts of cash, first of all, in order to meet our commitments, namely redemption of our loans and issues maturing; next, in order to be able to exploit acquisition opportunities, which are part of our strategy; and also, in order to be able to deal with a contingency situation, such as the financial crisis of 2008, which led to the credit markets drying up for companies over several months. The extraordinary situation that we have faced this year validates the relevance of our policy, which some may feel is a little bit too conservative at times. Against this backdrop, as soon as lockdown began, we sought to consolidate our liquidity because we were entering uncharted waters.

Among -- At VINCI, we were among the first beneficiaries of the reopening of the commercial paper market, thanks to the support of the ECB and Bank of France. And in parallel, we are able to pay-in from our long-standing banks an additional credit facilities with a 1-year maturity for EUR 3.3 billion.

And finally, as I have just said, through Cofiroute, we issued EUR 950 million bond issue maturing in 11 years. After these various transactions, we had, end June, a cash buffer of EUR 18 billion, breaking down into EUR 5.8 billion of cash; commercial paper, EUR 1.2 billion; credits facilities, EUR 11.3 billion, of which EUR 8 billion maturing November 2024. The good news is that, contrary to our expectation, operational -- operating cash remained very strong throughout the period, meaning that our debt level at 30th of June is barely above that of end 2019, whereas usually in midyear, it is significantly lower compared to end year due to the seasonal nature of our business.

Thank you very much.

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [3]

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[Interpreted] Thank you, Christian. Before talking to you about the future at VINCI, I'd like briefly just to share with you a few thoughts stemming from this period of consideration that we've all experienced. First of all, we've all seen how much our colleagues were solely needed and missed and to what extent we derive our strength, our energy, our creativity through interaction with others, our colleagues, of course, but also all our stakeholders. If I mentioned that, of course, the underlying trends on the rise, such as homeworking will expand, but let's not think it's a revolution because the company can never be reduced to a mere setup of distant contractual ties.

A company is, first and foremost, where a collective comes to the fore serving an objective, a strategy and a shared dream. All that to say that it's not the end of office and real estate projects in general. It's never been more necessary to affirm our social and civic responsibility in highly fragmented societies who, more than ever, need to strengthen the social fabric. And it's really part of our culture. We're already doing a lot, and we'll probably have to take this to the next level going forward. And it's even more necessary to accelerate our environmental policy because the immediate concerns affecting the health of our fellow citizens, all of a sudden, place in starker focus the worries about the health of our planet, more about that in due course. The ability to adapt that we've displayed to halt, to ensure the safety of our job sites, to ensure our public service missions, to revise our spending, our structures, our investments, to resume our job sites is really down to the credit of our local leaders.

So we reaffirm our conviction that as part of our culture is that the right decisions are taken close to the ground, first and foremost, and we have decided on the right organization, highly decentralized, offering the best adjustments, agile and responsively to the inevitable crises that will loom on our way.

Other lesson learned, we know how to work on the COVID, the firmness guides that I mentioned earlier that were viewed as site resumption guidelines. We use them as guidelines to work under COVID. It's very important because we don't know if we won't see the emergence of new clusters, so we consider that we're well armed, well equipped so as to meet a resurgence of such hot spots from the epidemic.

So new challenges arise for companies as well as countries. Increasingly, global challenges, the challenge affecting the state of the planet, we've understood the very global challenge posed by the pandemic. There may be others tomorrow, big issues revolving around cybersecurity or others that don't appear today. So these global challenges must lead us to a change in mindset. By that, I mean that the top-down process responses must give place to swiftness, agility, horizontal and local cooperation, logics based on partnership and trust. And to illustrate these principles, if we consider the recovery plans that are launched here and there, the good news is that these recovery plans are all very green, focusing on the environmental transition. But I think that the implementation of these recovery plans should factor in the principles I've just mentioned. In a country such as France, urgency dictates that we inject far more swiftly investment capacity for local government because it's on that level that we can take account of realities on the ground.

Turning to our businesses now, Slide 32. French motorways are picking up faster than expected. Traffic levels in July, in certain days, has seen a return to growth, even though last year -- and the full month of June up to June week 30 is at minus 2% over last year. That's obviously good news. It reminds us that we will not make up for the absence of traffic during the previous phase, but traffic declined. Full year 2020 should be between 15%, 20% over 2019.

We believe also, as part of the recovery plan announced by the state, motorways might be mobilized by extending Concessions so as to invest in transport decarbonization by accelerating the rollout of electrical charging points and hydrogen demonstrators or through intermodal infrastructure development with high-service bus routes or a free-flow toll system. Concessionaires can also offer investments in peri-urban networks that could form part of the decentralization announced by the Prime Minister of the national road network, either for the regions or the department.

VINCI Airports, Slide 33, 34, things are slower. VINCI Airports is recovering more slowly, owing to border restrictions and uncertainties brought out by the emergence of clusters, such as very recently in Barcelona that led a number of U.K. citizens to give up their holiday plans in Spain. That's a major tourist destination for them as it is for other European countries. Starting from almost 0 in terms of passenger traffic, we were at minus 83% during week 30, as to say, last week.

We expect -- and this is illustrated by the 2 pie charts you see on Slide 33, our positioning should allow us to resume activity faster than others because we're at 3 quarters of VFR, visiting friends and relatives; and tourism, minus 1 quarter on the professional travel segment that will be slower to pick up than the other 2 segments.

The other pie chart on the left, where you see that customer basis, 50% domestic and intra-European, which should also favor us; and the long-haul or the long-distance segment accounting for only 10% of point-to-point travel in our various airports. We expect the end of the year we'll see a traffic drop of the order of 65%. 2021 will once again be down versus '19, but quite possibly, at least, we hope, with a traffic level that will bring us to close to breakeven in terms of net income on that business. So it's in this business quite naturally that we reviewed downwards significantly our CapEx, as illustrated on Slide 34.

In Contracting, as we said, we're off to a good recovery, close to normal, particularly in France. What's striking is, in France, that was almost at a standstill during the lockdown phase, is now pretty much the geography that's the closest to a return to normal. It's also the case for Germany, but Germany declined far less than France. The good news is obviously our order book, as you can see on Slide 36 (sic) [Slide 35], at an historic high, EUR 42.9 billion. That's excellent news, even if it does conceal the weakness of small- and medium-sized projects. It will all depend on the speed at which the various recovery plans across countries will be implemented. We hope that will be as swift as possible.

We expect Contracting to record in 2020 a drop of 5% to 10% over the previous year. VINCI Energies, probably at the low end of the range. And VINCI Construction probably towards the top end of the range year-over-year, being somewhere between the 2. We expect that, inevitably, there'll be a reduction of our EBIT margins across the year, but probably limited to a 150, 200 basis points of the EBIT margin over last year.

So 2020 won't be a good year. We've expecting that to be the case for some months. And these quite exceptional circumstances, the Board that met yesterday decided not to pay an interim dividend because of a negative result recorded during the first half. But this in no way prejudges what we've decided early 2021 in respect of full year 2020.

What is important is to look to the future, and we are rallying to support the economic recovery in communities where we're a key player, both in Concessions and Contracting. We believe that we have significant assets to bounce back as of 2020, depending on how health conditions evolve so as to return as soon as possible to sustainable growth partly.

We have a long-term business model well adapted to current challenges, energy efficiency, new mobility or communications requirement. And as already mentioned, Concessions and PPPs, in the broad sense, are very effective levers for recovery that are available to public authorities. And we are on promising markets across our businesses for the long term. And the high responsiveness of our companies, thanks to our highly decentralized structure, quite extraordinary commitment on the part of our teams and order book at an all-time high and a very robust financial situation allows us to remain confident. And we can only do a good job when we're confident. So 2021 will be the year of the rebound. And we'll see this far more clearly in the coming months.

Growth will be increasingly green as we have seen in the various stimulus plans. And we are particularly happy to have redefined our ambitions in terms of in the environment in 2019. We have set ourselves specific goals and commitments, bringing together all of the teams in our group with 3 main thrusts: working for climate, optimizing natural resources through the circular economy and preserving the natural environment. The environmental issue does not only concern, ditto the specialist head office, but it concerns all of our 220,000 employees. We support them by providing training in order to be -- for them to be able to act with the proper level of information and skills. And we are mobilizing them by launching in September the environment prize, which will enable us to share, enhance and reward the initiatives, all the components of our businesses in the group.

Our vision of performance is a global vision I set out in our manifesto. And I would like to say a few words about the social and societal aspects, which we must not forget. We are improving in terms -- on all the areas of the manifesto. We're improving on employee safety on our sites. We are improving in terms of diversity with gender parity. We are starting from some way behind, but we're making significant inroads. We are improving regarding our sharing profits. This year, of course, is going to be a bit more difficult. But last year, through our various schemes, whether individual or collective, we distributed EUR 470 million. And 100% of our functioning employees and our shareholders of the group and 90% of our employees around the world are eligible for share acquisition -- VINCI share acquisition at very preferential rates.

We are improving on the theme of societal responsibility, which is very much part of our group culture. This year, we will be welcoming 5,000 secondary school pupils from inter-urban areas for 5 days. And we are working very hard on social integration through work. And we're probably one of the champions of this in France with the 2,500 people we support every year through these insertion programs.

Well, that's what we wanted to say. As you can see, we are optimistic for the years ahead. We have been convinced for a long time that we must now reason in terms of global performance, in other words, economic performance, of course, but increasingly social, societal and environmental performance. We made this choice of global performance. This is our raison d'être to bring together the world, to be useful to mankind and to the health of the planet.

Thank you very much. And of course, we are all ready here at Rueil-Malmaison, head office, with the heads of our business units to respond and answer to all your questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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[Interpreted] (Operator Instructions) Question from JPMorgan.

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Elodie Rall, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Research Analyst [2]

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[Interpreted] I have 3 questions. Number one, on Contracting. You feel that margins will be down by 150, 200 basis points. Can you give a bit more granularity on the different divisions? I suppose VINCI Construction will be down more, but what impact should we expect further to the restructuring of Entrepose Contracting? And do you think you will come back to 2019 margins in 2021? And if not, what will be the decisions arising there? The first question.

Question for Christian, on working capital requirement, what a positive impact in the first half, which is very unusual in seasonal terms. Should we expect a negative variation of WCR in the second half as the business picks up again? And that's my second question.

And number three, you talked about the possible extension of motorway concessions versus a -- in exchange for a carbon and decarbonation investment. So how many years of extension would you expect from that basis?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [3]

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[Interpreted] Thank you very much, Elodie. Well, I think I'll give the floor, first of all, to Christian.

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Christian Labeyrie, VINCI SA - CFO & Executive VP [4]

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[Interpreted] Right. Well, listen, what we think is that there may indeed be a decline in the months ahead of WCR, but we've always got it wrong in a positive way, but -- and that it will be restored by the end of the year. So we don't expect, by the end of the year, a worsening of the situation compared to end of June, even they may hit a low in the meantime. But we've usually got it wrong in the positive sense previously, so we may well -- that may well be the case.

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [5]

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[Interpreted] Now for the third question, I will hand over to Pierre Coppey, who will tell us what he can say on this, which is a partnership with the state. Pierre?

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Pierre Coppey, VINCI SA - EVP [6]

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[Interpreted] Yes. Thank you, Xavier. What I think on this is that it's premature to give any figures in our answer to the question. For the major French concessionaires, a lot of work has been done in recent years in decarbonating transport and developing intermodal transport for areas surrounding big cities and for establishing electric recharging stations and establishing a free-flow system for Toulouse in France, and this represents major capital spending. The state has begun to ask us for proposals, which are being examined by the [GGIT]and the relevant government department. We haven't yet come to put in figures on this, so it's difficult to give you a more detailed answer at this point.

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [7]

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[Interpreted] I would add, Elodie, that with the exceptional situation, you need an exceptional answer. And we understand fully that this is such a deep crisis that what we must do, as I tried to explain earlier, is to change our recipe and method and move into a partnership based on trust and confidence.

In France, with this new government, we see that there is a genuine will, so we'll see what happens. It's too early to forecast results, but we do see that there's a genuine will to move into this new logic based on partnership and trust.

Now regarding the Contracting business, I don't want to forestall what may be said -- anticipate what may be said by my colleagues, but VINCI Energies will probably be at the low end of the bracket; VINCI Construction perhaps at the high end of the bracket. And for 2021, I'd go as far as to say that, under present circumstances, that means assuming that we end up having a stabilization of the crisis, then in that case, we should be able in 2021 to go back close to 2019 levels for margins for 2021.

Now having said that, will my colleagues have any comments on that? Pierre, Jérôme and Christian, who is extremely optimistic today, have said that it may even be better in construction in terms of EBIT margin in 2021 versus what we -- the result in 2019. Do you want to elaborate on that, Christian?

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Christian Labeyrie, VINCI SA - CFO & Executive VP [8]

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[Interpreted] Well, first of all, I can confirm that production on our sites has resumed across all geographies with a production that is more or less at normal levels. We're getting used to this new normal, which is working with masks, even though this requires some claims. But the data which we closed out, financial statements, I think, in June is rather special. We've borne the full brunt of the crisis. And of course, it was too early to have -- to take into account all the claims arising from contracts under which these claims are due.

We have a major contract, which is going to be signed -- has been signed, and we have a very strong order book, and this means that we will be able to start off for 2021 with a sharp rise in the order book. We've been working for several years, and we will continue to work on emphasizing margin as opposed to revenue and able to work on the margins on order books, which are increasing steadily.

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Operator [9]

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[Interpreted] Next question from Royal Bank Canada.

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Unidentified Analyst, [10]

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[Interpreted] Yes. My first question concerns the dividend. You say that you can't rule out a payout for the 2020 results. Could you say if there's no second wave that you're confident in paying out a dividend?

My second question, just to pick up on working capital. Do you see potentially a risk in terms of recovering outstanding receivables and the financial health or soundness of your contracting clients? And in terms of cash-out disbursements, you're not expecting in the second half to see an acceleration of the first half.

And my third question concerns airports. So things have stopped in terms of margin. The second half of the year may not be a lot more active than the first half.

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [11]

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[Interpreted] On the dividend answer, all depends when we have to take a decision and the way in which we view the next year. If you have a catastrophic mindset and you imagine the next January, the pandemic will continue to gain ground and the macroeconomic picture will be even bleaker than today, well, it would be legitimate for the Board to be cautious when it comes to paying out a dividend so as to preserve our financial firepower. But that's pretty unlikely. Our central case is that things will continue to improve, as I said to Elodie earlier, that assumption. We don't see any reason why we would not be able to pay out a dividend for 2020. Obviously, on a par with our earnings full year or a portion of those earnings.

Christian?

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Christian Labeyrie, VINCI SA - CFO & Executive VP [12]

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[Interpreted] On 2 questions on WCR receivables. Maybe I misspoke on WCR. We had receivables in this Q2 of the sustained activity level of Q1, higher than usual, favorable weather and fewer disbursements because our activity, it almost -- was almost at a standstill case in France. It's the opposite now because we're returning to normal in Contracting. So cash-in will be about 2 months, but we're resuming disbursements because we're getting subcontracted suppliers to work. That's why I said it's not impossible that our WCR might deteriorate in the coming months between now and the end of the year because, traditionally, the last month of the year, it's a very busy year -- month for cash-in. In the previous months, we should return to a WCR level on a par with what it is today, a bit higher even, if we are lucky.

As regards to receivables, we've provisioned receivables the first half in the release. So we tried to estimate the COVID impact on our accounts. Part of the impact, pretty modest. I mean, it's not 3 digits, but it's nevertheless significant counts provisions for receivables impairments, all segments; Contracting and even in Airports, where we decided to provision certain receivable.

Third question on Airports. Nicolas will speak to that. I didn't fully understand the question. Don't hesitate to ask for a repeat. Nicolas?

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Nicolas Dominique Notebaert, VINCI SA - CEO of VINCI Concessions [13]

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[Interpreted] I'll try and answer what I understood. We had passenger traffic of minus 61% the first half, highly contrasted between the 2 quarters. Xavier said all institutes of banking on minus 65%, full years. So the second half is lower than the first half average, to go from minus 61% to minus 65% is lower. As far today, we're at around minus 82%, minus 84% in for July. So it's a slow recovery. Necessarily, H2 won't be as good as slightly lower than H1. That's traffic but the impact of OpEx reduction measures is progressive, will be more significant in H2 and CapEx underway been continued. But CapEx, there's far less CapEx necessarily in H2. That's what we can say, a qualitative comparison in the first half for Airports. I hope that answers your question.

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Unidentified Analyst, [14]

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[Interpreted] Yes, that's perfect. The only thing I'd like to add as regards Airports is temporary unemployment, furlough schemes that you applied during the alert phase. I suppose that's going to continue in the second half.

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [15]

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[Interpreted] Well, we have a global airport network. As you know, France is about 20 million passengers in '19, minus 10%, the [2 55] support measures vary in France, temporary unemployment support schemes also in the U.K., for Gatwick and Belfast and Japan, some in Portugal, but they're not necessarily the same across the world. So the employment support measures vary considerably depending on the country and over time. Won't stop in France because one of the affected sectors, so a number of different schemes probably will continue. But we have a global network, and so it doesn't apply in the same way. It doesn't have the same impact across Airports, depending on the national schemes.

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Operator [16]

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[Interpreted] Next question from Barclays.

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Nabil Ahmed, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Head of European Construction, Building Materials and Infrastructure Equity Research [17]

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[Interpreted] Three questions, one on Contracting and another one on Airports. The first question on Contracting. Can you help me understand how you factored in the decline in productivity arising from social distancing for an unknown period? For -- regarding your order books, have you booked charges for this? And how do you factor this into the annual contracting margin?

Second question on Airports. Can you give us an idea on what is VINCI's reports approach to retail? Are there negotiations underway? And is this model in the process of changing because there may -- which was something that might (inaudible) to sharing of risk between the Airports and the retail players?

And last question, can you give me the total amount of -- that was received by VINCI for the first half for -- and all the various plants support measures?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [18]

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[Interpreted] Thank you, Nabil. On your first question, again, I'll hand over to my colleagues, but I would start off by saying that the cost of the decline in productivity is -- which is close to 0 at year-over-year in VINCI Energies and the process of normalization of VINCI Construction, of course, there will always be some expenses because you have to provide masks, sanitizer, pay the crane operator for overtime, this kind of thing. But what we see is the human nature is, by definition, extremely flexible. And this new background has brought about changes in the method of execution, and it can have positive consequences. And overall, we have -- we're showing that we're able to work under the constraints of COVID. And the long-term productivity gains will probably be very limited.

Now I stand to be corrected, of course, by Jérôme Stubler. And if you don't totally agree with me, please give your opinion, Jérôme. So Jérôme Stubler (inaudible) what I'm saying. Hello?

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Jérôme Stubler, VINCI SA - Chairman of VINCI Construction [19]

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[Interpreted] For VINCI Energies? Yes. I agree. The only impact was on the -- with concern, the implementation of -- or the establishment of lockdown with some stop-and-go effects, which had a one-off, in fact. And otherwise, virtually is 0, as you said, Xavier.

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [20]

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[Interpreted] And on Lima?

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Jérôme Stubler, VINCI SA - Chairman of VINCI Construction [21]

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[Interpreted] No, what I wanted to add is that of course, contracts that have signed -- have been signed since we kicked off the lockdown phase are contracts or at least the biggest contract include a COVID disclaimer.

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Nabil Ahmed, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Head of European Construction, Building Materials and Infrastructure Equity Research [22]

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[Interpreted] All right. Could you -- well, yes, feel free to elaborate on that.

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Jérôme Stubler, VINCI SA - Chairman of VINCI Construction [23]

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[Interpreted] Of course. We have 2 types of contracts that have been signed prior to the COVID crisis were public sector contracts where we have clauses that provide protection with compensation provisions. And then we have private sector contracts where, around the world, we have force majeure clauses, which enables us to extend deadlines, but we should not always provide financial compensation for contracts which were signed during the COVID crunch -- crisis.

And now this does not apply because the COVID crisis is an established fact. So what we've included, 2 principles, either we exclude the impact of COVID, which requires compensation, which is negotiated on a case-by-case basis depending on the scale and duration of the crisis, which we do not know; otherwise, it's built into the prices one at a time contract is signed.

(inaudible) just to say that COVID impact is now behind us now. We now know how to work under the constraints of COVID as do our clients. And to emphasize what Xavier said is that if we have new constraints in a new period of lockdown, we know how to deal with this and our customers also know how to deal with this, and we are aligned on that. So I think that's reassuring if we have -- in terms of productivity and additional costs. Nicolas?

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Nicolas Dominique Notebaert, VINCI SA - CEO of VINCI Concessions [24]

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[Interpreted] Well, just one comment. That means that excluding the decline in activity in the second half, margins will be similar to margins for the second half of last year.

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [25]

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[Interpreted] Well, not quite because you don't go immediately from one situation to another. There is an adjustment period, and I think everything that Jérôme said earlier applies. There's still quite a lot of work to be done vis-à-vis some customers in order to ensure that we have compensation, not only for deadlines, but also for receivables, in particular regarding the phase that we've just gone through. So if you add all this up, it means we have to be a little bit patient and we have to protect ourselves into 2021 to look forward to a normalization of margins or perhaps margins slightly above 2019.

Now on guaranteed minimums, we don't have a single approach to this. The advantage of our decentralized model is that our local managers implement these contracts. Sometimes we have demands and sometimes we don't, a proportional approach to traffic. So we have -- we're going ahead with local situations. And sometimes, we exchange a long-term value, trading off long-term versus short term. So there are different types of contracts in a sector which is impacted, including ourselves. So there's no immediate transfer risk from one player to another. We apply the contracts and the closest apply in some cases. It varies depending on our assets. There's no single approach to this, to communicate on this.

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Nabil Ahmed, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Head of European Construction, Building Materials and Infrastructure Equity Research [26]

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[Interpreted] Just questions on Airports for the long term. Do you think there will be more risk sharing on Airports between retail and airport operators more?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [27]

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[Interpreted] I don't know. The model is based on sharing of risk. We don't see any great difference in customer behavior, apart from the fact that, obviously, you have to be very responsive in order for the product that they're being offered, be more digital. But there's no actual change in the equilibrium, which has to rest on risk sharing. But no major shift that we can foresee in terms of the sharing of risk. Regarding furlough, Christian?

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Christian Labeyrie, VINCI SA - CFO & Executive VP [28]

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[Interpreted] Well, what you need to know is that it's not just France that has established temporary layoffs or furloughing. The Germans did this. They called it furlough. And -- but the -- to give you an idea, the impact of furlough -- the positive impact was approximately EUR 150 million, combining domestic and overseas, with France accounting for approximately 60% of that EUR 150 million. But don't forget that with these cash amounts, there are also savings in terms of social charges. So you can actually double that figure in order to see the positive impact on our results.

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Operator [29]

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[Interpreted] Next question comes from CIC.

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [30]

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[Interpreted] Jean-Christophe, what are you doing? Sleeping? Jean, sorry, we can't hear you. What are you doing? Wind surfing? Direct the antenna towards us. You're too far from your mic. We can't hear you. We can't hear a thing you're saying, Jean-Christophe. Sorry you're going to have to improve the link and get back to us.

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Operator [31]

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[Interpreted] Next question comes from Virginie at (inaudible)

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Unidentified Analyst, [32]

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[Interpreted] Two quick ones. One on Contracting, an update on orders from local authorities in France, a decrease in H1, local authorities suffered from the crisis, measures announced by the government. Do you think they're on par with the (inaudible) had? How do you view the trend from local authorities going forward?

Second question on Gatwick. There's a risk of a covenant breach. What would the consequences of that be for you and for them?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [33]

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[Interpreted] On the possible breach in the covenant, on the first question, my colleagues can chip in. Just a figure, Germany, 2 months ago, the federal state injected EUR 12 billion made available to local authorities, in particular, to offset the significant decline in tax receipts so as to allow them to resume the launch of projects and to fuel economic recovery. The Construction segment is very responsive in terms of economic recovery because immediately, you can do a large number of small and medium projects that don't require the ministry to green light, give people jobs to kick start the economy.

In France, for the time being, the figures are more modest, EUR 1 billion maybe. And we're trying -- that's what I was pointing out earlier. We're trying to convince the government, the powers that be, of the need to move a lot faster. What we're saying is it's really race against the clock -- what's not done now. And in fact, today, we should have done it a month ago will make the recovery even more challenging going forward. So we are struggling with local authorities because the government effort to improve their finances has not yet been undertaken.

It will come. No doubt about it. It will come probably a little late versus what we could have done and as compared to what was done in countries such as Germany, which isn't the only one.

Anything to add to that?

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Christian Labeyrie, VINCI SA - CFO & Executive VP [34]

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[Interpreted] Yes. Elections, yes. Maybe just to add that there's a precondition that was made, that the government should complete, finalize the local elections. That's happened, it wasn't necessarily obvious, end of May, early June. So governance is now in place at local level with local authorities, local government echelon. So that's an achievement, that's very positive. And now in France, the various financial resources packages announced by the government, backed up by the European recovery plan must be rolled out across local authorities in France. We don't have the detail, but we clearly sense that everyone's in agreement. There's no reason for it not to happen. It might be a bit late, but it must happen.

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [35]

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[Interpreted] As regards Gatwick, the key point like for VINCI is that really lend heavily on liquidity. It was important for Gatwick to continue to benefit from good liquidity case. Gatwick obtained a banking loan of GBP 300 million from its institutional banks and also obtained an agreement in principle from the Bank of England, like other U.K. companies to benefit, as the case in France, of commercial paper, which will give it the insurance and not having any cash problems between now and the end of the year, even beyond.

With regards to covenants, as a covenant issue, which, of course, depend on projections submitted to the lenders because it's done periodically. They calculated it on a provisional basis. There may be a covenant issue by the end. This is preempted through a discussion underway, negotiation underway by the company, advised by banks, with banks that are pretty much the same as those that lent the GBP 300 million in the second stage with the bond lenders. So this process is getting underway. Obviously, a little bit early to say any more at this stage, but we're confident the financial position of Gatwick and VINCI Concessions on the fact that we'll reach a reasonable agreement with the lender reps in the coming weeks. And when that's done, we'll disclose, and Gatwick will do that. And then with Gatwick, communicate regularly its financial situation. And VINCI takes up Gatwick's community. So we will disclose in due course, hopefully, the end of August, early September, on the upshot of negotiations that are just getting underway. Let me add that there's also ongoing dialogue at Gatwick with the rating agencies. Gatwick is rated by the 3 agencies, S&P, Moody's and Fitch. All that's done smoothly and in parallel.

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Operator [36]

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[Interpreted] Next question, CIC.

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Jean-Christophe Lefèvre-Moulenq, CIC Market Solutions (ESN), Research Division - Financial Analyst & Sector Coordinator [37]

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[Interpreted] Now can you hear? Can you hear me?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [38]

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[Interpreted] Well, well done, well done. Yes, we can.

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Jean-Christophe Lefèvre-Moulenq, CIC Market Solutions (ESN), Research Division - Financial Analyst & Sector Coordinator [39]

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[Interpreted] Just a detail now on -- I have 2 questions. One on VINCI Construction, another one on Airports. Let's start off with the Airports. Is the investment plan for the new airport at Lisbon -- is it being maintained? Or has it been postponed?

And on the VINCI Construction, do we have measures on the sites for preservation as we've seen in France and internationally? And looking ahead, what is the outlook for improvement of VINCI Construction in France? We were barely breakeven previously. And what will happen for specialized construction, such as Freyssinet?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [40]

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.[Interpreted] So basically, you want everything, don't you?

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Jean-Christophe Lefèvre-Moulenq, CIC Market Solutions (ESN), Research Division - Financial Analyst & Sector Coordinator [41]

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[Interpreted] That shouldn't come as a surprise to you, Xavier.

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [42]

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[Interpreted] Nicolas, on Montijo.

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Nicolas Dominique Notebaert, VINCI SA - CEO of VINCI Concessions [43]

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[Interpreted] Well, on Montijo, no particular message. There is an adjustment that will have to be made in the next few weeks or months, but it's more about the ability to have a face-to-face discussion that is delaying things. There's no real delay here. There's an adjustment, which is more of a reflection of the restrictions on meeting and traveling. Now this has been going on for 3 years. I think, once we set everything, which I think should be done in the next 6 months.

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [44]

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[Interpreted] On Construction, I don't think we can give a detailed answer to your questions, what you need to take into account, as we've said before with these presentations, France suffered far more during the first half than most other countries for a variety of reasons, but that's not the point. The consequence of this is that the impact on VINCI Construction in France -- within VINCI Construction overall are far greater than the impact in other geographies because there's a lot of revenue. There's a cost of actually coming to a halt, the cost of restarting, loss of productivity. This is a far more visible in France and that's where -- because France suffered the most.

And my second point, and then I'll hand over to Jérôme Stubler. You seem to be referring to great -- the U.K. as a potential center of loss. That's not true. The U.K. has restructured. It has -- it's in the recovery phase. And the U.K. should deliver decent performance given the arrival of the major HS2 project and other smaller but still very profitable projects that will come on stream.

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Jérôme Stubler, VINCI SA - Chairman of VINCI Construction [45]

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[Interpreted] And on Freyssinet, well, we -- it's the same logic as with VINCI Energies. It's a number of small projects with a high technological input. We're not concerned about these, but it has to be said that some of these projects had to be stopped, consistent with the halts of many projects where Freyssinet is one of the players. I mean we could elaborate on this, of course. But basically, you need to go back to what I was saying earlier, which is that, yes, indeed, 2020 at VINCI Construction will be more difficult than in other areas of contracting, had my range of 150, 250 basis point decline in EBIT, but it should be -- there should be an upturn starting 2020. And the EBIT margin at VINCI Construction in 2021 should be better than what we saw in 2019.

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Jean-Christophe Lefèvre-Moulenq, CIC Market Solutions (ESN), Research Division - Financial Analyst & Sector Coordinator [46]

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[Interpreted] One additional point. Christian referred to cash flow, there is a write-back of receivables of these being booked to results?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [47]

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[Interpreted] Oh, well, I'm sorry. I don't have the answer to that. You've caught me out on that one. Marie do you have an answer to that question?

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Jean-Christophe Lefèvre-Moulenq, CIC Market Solutions (ESN), Research Division - Financial Analyst & Sector Coordinator [48]

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[Interpreted] Well, so I didn't put that correctly. This refers to long-standing receivables within a normal deadline. Well, well, you -- or (inaudible) means a return to good fortune when you're able to book the claims further to your collection efforts?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [49]

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[Interpreted] There are no significant claims that have been booked to the results for the first half. That may happen afterwards, which is what Jérôme was saying. But if we're talking about payments, receipt of payments, which is -- and I...

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Jean-Christophe Lefèvre-Moulenq, CIC Market Solutions (ESN), Research Division - Financial Analyst & Sector Coordinator [50]

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[Interpreted] Now can we envisage a return to better fortune?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [51]

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[Interpreted] Yes. But we've spoken about this in the past.

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Jean-Christophe Lefèvre-Moulenq, CIC Market Solutions (ESN), Research Division - Financial Analyst & Sector Coordinator [52]

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[Interpreted] Can we -- can there be significant claims at the end of the year?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [53]

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[Interpreted] Well, we're working on this, but we can't say much about this. We're working on it.

I'd like to use the opportunity to respond to your question and just to briefly cover another matter. What we've seen during the confinement, during the lockdown, and this accounts for the good level of our net debt, is that we use the opportunity because people were less busy. They were often at home, to invoice what was delayed. So that means that there were areas where we were somewhat behind in terms of our invoicing. So we're going to have to continue with that very good discipline, which is invoicing in a timely manner. And I hadn't realized this, but there were some areas where we were quite behind in terms of our invoicing.

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Operator [54]

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[Interpreted] Morgan Stanley, next question.

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Nicolas J. Mora, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Equity Analyst [55]

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[Interpreted] Yes. My first question just to turn to your guidance. Margin contracting, if I do a back-of-the-envelope calculation, second half with a margin of 50 to 60 basis points lower than H2 last year, looking at a drop of 200 basis points on the year, margin higher than last year, looking at a drop of 250 basis points. And listening to some of your peers, an increase year-on-year on the margin, it seems rather aggressive. So in the range that you've given this contracted margin down, 150, 200 bps, with the confidence into what we're on 200, everything goes smoothly, return to better fortune will be at the top end of the range? Or it's an aggressively high number? Like Christian were optimistic, wide-eyed optimism, do you give an aggressive target, hoping to reach it?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [56]

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[Interpreted] It's difficult to answer you, Nicolas, because it really depends on the corner of the table where you're doing the calculation. I mean, it's -- but it's difficult to know the temperature and pressure conditions that we'll be living in, in the second half. So we consider the external health environment conditions would be, give or take, what we're living today.

On that assumption, we are confident in the fact that we will deliver the guidance that you stated. If the pandemic goes on endlessly and if the wave sweeps across the countries several times, the situation will be radically different. We'll have to take account of difficulties in operating our projects in certain geographies. So it's always very tricky in the middle of this incredible storm to give a detailed answer to your question.

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Nicolas J. Mora, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Equity Analyst [57]

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[Interpreted] Okay. I'll try differently. On Construction, when you mentioned the margin 2021, above -- slightly above '19 maybe, the drivers of this improvement is one. Is the restructuring effort underway, 4, 5 years, new contracts, decrease in input cost, labor cost inflation? What gives you greater confidence in your ability to deliver the Construction margin improvement we've been expecting for a long time?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [58]

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[Interpreted] Well, the answer, it's everything you said except the last part. We have a good order book. And as I said earlier, it makes us confident and being confident and serene is the best way of working on margin. It's very difficult to work on our margins if we have a constant sense of being short of work. So the fact that we're confident, at least on the bigger deals, that's good.

Secondly, the discipline of margin over volume and refusing to do deals that don't have the right contractual terms and conditions and good margin is disciplined as it's profoundly cultural. It takes time to instill and implement. And we're now drawing -- reaping the benefits of that. And then the number of kind of one-off difficulties, which gradually will be resolved, overcome. And again, particularly the difficulties of Entrepose Contracting, we have a turnaround plan to restructure and to plug some units of Entrepose Contracting to other businesses in the group so as to resolve gradually, over time, the problem that Entrepose Contracting is faced with. That won't be resolved on its own, given the oil and gas environment.

Yes. We're listening.

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Nicolas J. Mora, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Equity Analyst [59]

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[Interpreted] Two quick follow-ups, one for Nicolas on Airports. Could you talk to us a bit about granularity on the outlook?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [60]

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[Interpreted] Sure. Midterm, we're thinking of ANA and Portugal. They seem to be better placed on the road to recovery in terms of capacity in Portugal versus Gatwick that seems to be struggling far more with a big question mark on the value of the asset today.

Nicolas?

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Nicolas Dominique Notebaert, VINCI SA - CEO of VINCI Concessions [61]

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[Interpreted] Nicolas, there are 2 separate things. There's the spot, the immediate situation that depends on the cyclical situation in countries and measures taken recently by the U.K. in respect of Spain, while creates an impact that hardens the crisis for an asset. But conversely, the VFR flow from France to Portugal is looking good. Transavia, easyJet passenger levels are looking good.

And then the short and medium term, we're quite exposed. We have a lot of VFR, and we're kind of more short- and long-haul versus -- short-, medium-haul than long-haul like other players. So we think those are good, useful, sustainable factors. It's difficult when there's a lot more long-haul. That's an immediate impression.

And then we have assets that have local territorial dynamics, U.S. VFR to Dominican Republic is working well. Those are one-off effects that we measure. But then it's very difficult over the long term, 4, 5 years out, to know how each of the drivers, long; medium; or short VFR; versus term VFR. And short-, medium-haul is working, domestic Japanese, French is working well. Long-haul international or long-haul business is not working so well. That's what we can say about the current trend. So we feel that we're slightly more protected against that, but we'll see over the next 4, 5 years how the recovery unfolds across these segments.

On the midterm, the medium-term outlook, based on Gatwick, we have a lot of big goodwill. We saw at ADP, at ANA, the impairments that was not -- was on the cards at the end of June to book an impairment on Gatwick. Yes, my microphone is on, says Christian.

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Christian Labeyrie, VINCI SA - CFO & Executive VP [62]

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[Interpreted] We booked an impairment, June 30 on a concession. That's the shortest, one of the shortest that we have. So it's a lot more difficult with a short concession to catch up the delay. It's Chile and our colleagues who are co-shareholders did the same. So probably beyond those issues, that there'll be a milestone at the end of the year than on Gatwick. That has no end by definition. And so we're confident, of course, on the basis of today's forecast, but we'll repeat the [XI] at the end of the year. At this stage, we don't expect the Gatwick impairment.

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Nicolas J. Mora, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Equity Analyst [63]

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[Interpreted] Okay. And one final one on M&A. Have you a degree of appetite that's coming back for small acquisitions, small-, medium-sized deals? Have you seen the multiples of prices of VINCI Energies or in Concessions prices beginning to return to normal compared to the peak levels of '18, '19?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [64]

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[Interpreted] I'll ask Arnaud to answer that one.

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Arnaud Palliez, VINCI SA - Senior Vice-President of IR [65]

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[Interpreted] Yes, the appetite is still there. Depending on our appetite and managerial capacity and the targets, where we have the people, where it makes sense, we'll continue to do those deals. On the prices, we've always respected price discipline. We're not seeing any big slowdown because there's no competition. Private equity funds still have a lot of money, a lot of liquidity. It's not going to change or take unreasonable price level to do these deals.

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Operator [66]

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[Interpreted] Kepler Cheuvreux, next.

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Josep Pujal, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Co-Head of Sustainability Research & Responsible Investment [67]

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[Interpreted] Two questions. First, on the Energies division. The margin was halved despite the fact that the top line was more resilient. Margin was down 300 basis points. And I saw that one of your competitors was down by only 170 basis points in terms of margin. Can you give me some detail on that matter.

And my second question, on Airports, if I may. Your strategic vision on Airports, has it changed because of COVID, because of what's happening on low-cost travel? Does this mean that nothing is changing? Or in which case, it means this is the time to buy? Or do you feel that all of these problems, low-cost travel, COVID, et cetera, does this mean that you have to call into question the fact that Airports are a major development area?

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Christian Labeyrie, VINCI SA - CFO & Executive VP [68]

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[Interpreted] Now regarding VINCI Energie's margins, you're referring to the result published by Spie, down by 170 basis points. Now Spie margins are based on 3% EBITDA, including extraordinary items. So there's no major difference. And you haven't included in the minus 4% -- you are not including the impact of external growth, which in the first few months of integration is dilutive because with -- excluding external growth, minus 8%. And the third answer is that our margins have to be looked at over the long term. This is a seasonal factor here regarding infrastructure. And lockdown -- and the strong impacts of lockdown in France, which accounts for 50% of our business, of course, has an impact on margins, but this has to be assessed over time. And I would refer you back to the guidance given by Xavier, with a more gradual decline at the end of the year and which will be close to the guidance that we gave you for the first half -- in the first half.

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Josep Pujal, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Co-Head of Sustainability Research & Responsible Investment [69]

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[Interpreted] To understand, large projects suffered more than small projects. Now is there a particular profile? That would be helpful, wouldn't it, for your tables?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [70]

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[Interpreted] No. It's global. This is a global -- and production is global. What we need to be -- about on the outlook is small orders in our business where companies present are being very cautious and we have seen a decline in small orders. We hope that with the stimulus plans, to regain in confidence that they will be back on the rise. But they'll have an impact on production overall.

On Airports, Nicolas, will you add something?

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Nicolas Dominique Notebaert, VINCI SA - CEO of VINCI Concessions [71]

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[Interpreted] Well, on what was said, there is no calling into question of the low-cost model in broad terms. The recovery of low-cost companies is what they're actually holding up better than the major carriers. And they're more from -- basically, they're much more geared towards the VFR business and for the broader recovery of traffic. If you track what's been said by the various specialist bodies, it's going to take a number of years. But depending on the type of traffic involved, it may not be the exactly the same date, depending on the type of traffic.

So there is no calling into question of low-cost models in the airline business. And what we're doing is we're seeing people adapting, remaining flexible and basing themselves point-to-point business.

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Josep Pujal, Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division - Co-Head of Sustainability Research & Responsible Investment [72]

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[Interpreted] Well, my question, in fact, was -- I didn't put it properly probably, but does the group continue to see Airports as an area for strategic investment, which has been the case for the past 10 years? You've gone from 0 to becoming the biggest global operator. And what is going on at present? Does this call into question your ambitions? Does it challenge your -- those ambitions? Or do you think this is a passing phenomenon? Do you think it's a cold? Is it the common cold? Or something more serious? And if it's just a common cold, then it probably means that now is the time to step up investment because there will be more opportunities at a reasonable cost.

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [73]

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[Interpreted] Well, my answer, very clearly requires some degree of nuance. Does it call into question our will, our commitment to continue to develop over the medium and long term in the Airports sector? The answer is, no. We are long-term players. And therefore, we are able to put into perspective, short- and medium-term impacts as opposed to -- or versus a long-term vision. And I would go as far as to say that what defines our strategy is to be robust, to be resilient and not to let yourself be unduly influenced by short or medium-term fluctuations. That does not mean that there will not be any adjustments to certain areas of the model. But basically, we are convinced that air transport meets -- is a response to -- meets global demand, which is very complementary with other means of transport. And there's no reason for us to believe that we should begin to consider the end of air transport.

And if you add to that the fact that air transport is being very unfairly attacked for some time now in terms of its carbon footprint, all this will be ultimately settled. Air transport, depending on the experts, accounts for 2% to 3% of global CO2 emissions, but you also know that traffic and our motorways in France is 6% of French emissions. And the use of your means of communication is probably twice as much as the global emissions of CO2 of the airline sector. And the airline transport is very well organized in order to provide a collective response to the ambition, which is to improve things regarding the carbon footprint. And anyway, (inaudible) who is forecasting a mono corridor decarbonated airplane by 2035. It may be a few years off. But if you add all these parameters, there's no reason to challenge our goal, which is to deploy, develop in the Airports sector.

This being said, should we start buying up left, right and center? Well, of course, not, but for a very simple reason. We think that there will be few opportunities because the owners, be that public or private, I think they probably feel that this is probably not the best time to put their asset up for sale. And secondly, trying to anticipate -- to have the traffic forecast is going to be very difficult. It's more difficult now than 1 year ago because, at present, we're really in a situation of total uncertainty regarding the various platforms. So we're not calling the strategy into question, definitely not. Of course, there are no major ambitions for acquisitions in the near term. And this doesn't really matter because I don't think there are going to be many opportunities anyway.

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Gregoire Thibault, VINCI SA - Group Director of IR & Financial Communications [74]

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[Interpreted] We're now going to move to questions in English.

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Operator [75]

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The question -- the first question in English comes from Gregor Kuglitsch, UBS.

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Gregor Kuglitsch, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Executive Director, Head of European Building & Construction Research and Equity Research Analyst [76]

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I know we've been going on for a long time, so I'll try to be brief. So the first question is on -- you mentioned breakeven point, I think, on net income for Airports, that's at least your aim for '21. I guess my question is, could you give us what traffic level do you think are you breakeven at whichever level, either net income or EBIT ideally? So basically, to figure out what traffic do you need to be breakeven.

The second question on the sort of rebound into '21. So you've elaborated a lot on margins in Construction. I think I heard volumes also similar in Construction, but correct me if I'm wrong. I guess my question is, what about motorways? Do you think traffic can recover broadly to the level of '19? Or do you think that's unrealistic?

And then finally, I'm going to push again on the extension. Can you just -- I know it's still early stages, but just so we get a feel of quantum, is it similar in nature to the size, i.e., the duration extension in CapEx that we had back in 2014 or '15? Or should we be thinking about something completely different?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [77]

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[Interpreted] Okay. I'll answer in French. What I said earlier, I didn't say that for our guidance, we were aiming at breakeven for VINCI Airports in terms of net income in '21. I said that we could hope to move close to breakeven in '21. Now can we give an idea of what we would need by way of a traffic decrease to return to breakeven? I mean, give you a percent of it, traffic drop of what, 25%, 30%, give or take, with minus 25%, 30% traffic decrease. We should be around breakeven net income. Of course, it's an overall figure. It really depends -- versus 2019, I'm saying. Yes, 25%, 30% versus 2019, depends in how it occurs across the Airports and across the various customer segments.

On the motorway, as we indicated, we're not that far from the 2019 curve. We've even exceeded it during certain days in July. We're minus 2% during 1st of July, 26th of July period. So depending on external temperature pressure conditions, we can imagine that we'll return to the 2019 curve, stabilized in -- during the final months of 2020.

As to possibility to discuss with the French state of a partnership, as part of the recovery stimulus package, it's far too early to say anything about that as we speak.

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Operator [78]

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The next question comes from Tobias Woerner from MainFirst.

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Tobias Alfred Woerner, MainFirst Bank AG, Research Division - Research Analyst [79]

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Yes. Three, if I may, and maybe follow-up questions. You have EUR 17 billion capital employed in the Airports business. Similar to the question before, could you give us an idea of what level of traffic you'll meet your WAC? Number one.

Number two, I heard what you said about asset impairments earlier, but a lot of companies have used Brexit as well as COVID-19 as a triggering event. Just remind us why that wasn't the case for you.

And then just lastly, I have to say, I was surprised by the performance of your VINCI Energies business, which has been a stellar performance over years and years. And clearly, there's a crisis going on, so I understand that. But again, relative to some of its peers, would you say that it is possible for this business, however, to recover its margin quicker than the other Contracting businesses?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [80]

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[Interpreted] Well, I think we've already covered that last point regarding VINCI Energies. We said everything, in fact. VINCI Energies made a very strong impression on this because of its resilience, and we did not expect anything else. This is why we invested significantly in VINCI Energies for a number of years. And furthermore, 2020 will be down in terms of EBIT margin, but we think that we will be able to go back to a normal level of EBIT margins in VINCI, approximately 6% from 2021.

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Unidentified Company Representative, [81]

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We will quickly recover, given if nothing changes during this -- the second half of the year. And yes, compared to our competitors, we're just slightly better, and we're comparable. And just -- it's slightly better than Spie.

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [82]

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[Interpreted] On the Airports, I didn't really understand the question. But what we said in the previous question is that a decline in traffic, well, it's 25% to 30% decline in traffic compared to 2019, would enable us to get close to breakeven in terms of net income. This is something that we can still hope for, for 2021, depending on how the pandemic evolves.

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Tobias Alfred Woerner, MainFirst Bank AG, Research Division - Research Analyst [83]

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But the question really was, when -- at what traffic level decline or recovery do you cover your cost of capital again?

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Xavier M. P. Huillard, VINCI SA - Chairman & CEO [84]

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[Interpreted] Well, Nicolas said earlier that we are ahead somewhat in terms of our business plan, in particular, in Portugal. And this is true as well in Japan and other airports. And therefore, we have some margin, even if we are somewhat behind. But given that we were well ahead for the past 6 years or so and if as we hope things gradually recover by 2024, then there shouldn't be too much of a problem versus our initial objectives of internal rates of return. But we can't really say very much more than that at present. In fact, it's impossible. Is that okay?

Thank you very much. Enjoy the summer. And in particular to Christian, he's going to be catching the plane to celebrate his 31 years of presence in the group. And yes, and hopefully, my house has not yet burned down. Thank you very much, and we hope to see you in person next time. Thank you all very much.

[Portions of this transcript that are marked Interpreted were spoken by an interpreter present on the live call.]