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An exceptional performance in an exceptional period

·22 min read

H1 revenue: €993.3m +26.4%
Organic growth over the half: +31.5%

Paris, July 21, 2021 - Ipsos' revenue for the first half of 2021 was €993.3m, up 26.4% compared to the same period in 2020.

At constant scope and exchange rates, the growth in activity is even stronger at 31.5%. Scope effects are almost negligible at 0.3%, while currency effects reduce revenue by 5.4%. For the second quarter alone, the growth rates are 47.5% in real terms and 52.3% in organic terms after taking into account negative currency effects of -5.1% and positive scope effects of 0.3%.

Ipsos' excellent performance is the result of a combination of two factors.
On the one hand, activity in the first half of 2021 is compared to the same period in 2020, which was in sharp decline due to the lockdown implemented by the health authorities in many markets from February to May. The generalization of lockdowns had led to a sudden and unprecedented reduction in activity, at constant scope and exchange rates, of 13% for the half-year and 26% for the second quarter from 2020.
On the other hand, the business is inherently strong. Here, the comparison to 2019 takes on its significance. Ipsos' organic growth rate is 13.9% when the first half of 2019 is used as a basis for comparison. This performance is equivalent to that of the first quarter.

Ipsos' activity has thus passed the 2020 low point. It is in line with the progress expected from the new organization put in place in the summer 2018. Its objective was to put the information needs of Ipsos' corporate and institutional customers at the heart of our company's strategy. We offered them the opportunity to better understand Society, markets and people. To achieve this, a specific organization within Ipsos has been dedicated to maintaining close links between the company and its clients and also to favoring many new, accessible and modern solutions that enable all kinds of data to be captured, integrated and analyzed. The term "Total Understanding" has been used for the past three years to describe this organization.

IPSOS PERFORMANCE IN 2019, 2020 AND 2021

In millions
of Euros

Revenue
2021

H1 2021 vs H1 2020

H1 2021 vs H1 2019

Total
growth

Organic
growth

Total
growth

Organic
growth

1st quarter

466.3

8.8%

14.1%

10.5%

14.1%

2nd quarter

527.0

47.5%

52.3%

9.5%

13.6%

Total for the half year

993.3

26.4%

31.5%

10.0%

13.9%


PERFORMANCE BY REGION

In millions of Euros

H1 2021

Contribution

Total growth
H1 2021/ H1 2020

Organic growth
H1 2021/ H1 2020

Reminder of organic growth
Q1 2021/ Q1 2020

EMEA

491.7

49%

36.9%

39%

28%

Americas

337.6

34%

17.0%

27%

0.5%

Asia-Pacific

164.0

17%

18.5%

22%

9%

Revenue

993.3

100%

26.4%

31.5%

14.1%

Naturally, this very strong growth is found in all regions, even if the EMEA zone continues to record the best performance thanks to the existence of contracts signed in several European countries at the request of public health authorities.
The Americas - North and South - are recovering well. The Asia-Pacific region, which had a poor start to 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic appeared in China and then in neighboring countries earlier than elsewhere, has been in better shape since the spring. However, it remains the part of the world where Ipsos' activity is barely greater than in 2019. It declined by 19% organically in the first half of 2020, compared to 9.5% for the EMEA and 15.5% for the Americas. It has grown by 22% in 2021, while EMEA and the Americas grew by 39% and 27% respectively. The average for Asia conceals significant disparities from one country to another. China has regained good growth while other markets, including Japan, are lagging behind.

PERFORMANCE BY AUDIENCE

In millions of Euros

H1 2021

Contribution

Total growth
H1 2021/ H1 2020

Organic growth
H1 2021/ H1 2020

Reminder
Organic growth
Q1 2021/ Q1 2020

Consumers1

431.2

43%

28.2%

35%

12%

Customers and employees2

198.4

20%

10.0%

14%

-11.5%

Citizens3

197.7

20%

38.1%

41%

49%

Doctors and patients4

166.0

17%

31.6%

37%

27.5%

Revenue

993.3

100%

26.4%

31.5%

14.1%

Breakdown of Service Lines by audience segment:
1- Brand Health Tracking, Creative Excellence, Innovation, Ipsos UU, Ipsos MMA, Market Strategy & Understanding, Observer (excl. public sector), Social Intelligence Analytics
2- Automotive & Mobility Development, Audience Measurement, Customer Experience, Channel Performance (including Retail Performance and Mystery Shopping), Media development, Capabilities
3- Public Affairs, Corporate Reputation
4- Pharma (quantitative and qualitative)

The performance of the various audiences is also becoming more balanced, even though interventions in the field of social research and public opinion - i.e. work with people defined as "citizens" - are still the fastest growing, with an organic growth rate of 41% over the half-year, compared to an average rate of 31.5% for all audiences combined.

In fact, the hierarchy between the audiences has remained the same for several quarters: the social search segment is evolving most favorably, while the "customers" segment is the least dynamic. These performances reflect the varying effects of the pandemic on different sectors of activity. Everything relating to public health is at the heart of the considerable need for new information, even if contracts specifically linked to measuring the Covid-19 pandemic are to end. Everything that concerns people positioned as "customers" is affected by the great difficulties in certain sectors linked to mobility, tourism and leisure. The good news in the second quarter is that the gaps are narrowing, foreshadowing a better balance of opportunities in the future.

FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE

Summary income statement

In millions of Euros

June 30, 2021

June 30, 2020

Change

Reminder
Dec 31, 2020

Revenue

993.3

786.0

26.4%

1 837.4

Gross margin

642.8

512.0

25.5%

1 180.5

Gross margin / Revenue

64.7%

65.1%

-

64.2%

Operating margin

109.0

25.0

336%

189.9

Operating margin / Revenue

11.0%

3.2%

-

10.3%

Other non-operating / non-recurring income and expenses

0.6

(7.1)

-

(6.1)

Finance costs

(7.0)

(11.6)

-39.5%

(20.6)

Income tax

(23.2)

0.2

-

(38.9)

Net profit attributable to the owner of the parent

72.0

1.3

-

109.5

Adjusted net profit attributable to the owner of the parent*

81.4

12.8

-

129.6

*Adjusted net profit is calculated before (i) non-cash items covered by IFRS 2 (share-based payments), (ii) amortization of intangible assets identified on acquisitions (client relationships), (iii) the net tax effect of other non-operating income and expenses, (iv) the non-cash effect on changes in puts in other financial income and expenses and (v) deferred tax liabilities from goodwill, which in some countries can be amortized.

Income statement

Overall, The Group’s profitability in H1 2021 is significantly higher than in the same period last year, with a record operating margin of 11% compared to a particularly low margin of 3.2% in H1 2020.

Last year, H1 profitability was hit by the sudden drop in activity from mid-March due to the pandemic. The suddenness of the fall did not allow us to reduce our costs to the same extent in the first half of the year because they were partly fixed and were in line with the initial growth forecast for 2020.

The various cost-saving measures put in place in 2020 meant that it was possible to make up for this shortfall in H2. The company had implemented a plan to reduce costs by €113 million over full-year 2020 compared to 2019. These savings primarily stemmed from payroll costs (€43 million), government subsidies (€29 million) and overheads (€41 million). Of these savings, around €20 million is expected to be repeated in 2021.

The gross margin (calculated by deducting external and variable direct costs associated with contract performance from revenue) rose slightly to 64.7% from 64.2% in full-year 2020 and 65.1% in H1 2020.
The gross margin ratio is tied to the mix of data collection modes, seeing as certain face-to-face surveys (which have a lower gross margin), which were on hold during the first lockdown, have been replaced in certain instances by higher margin online surveys. That said, the largest contracts to track the development of the pandemic were carried out face-to-face by the “Public Affairs” teams in a certain number of countries. Overall in 2020 and in H1 2021, online surveys accounted for 60% of business compared with 55% in 2019.

In terms of operating costs, payroll costs rose 7.5%, due to of the end of the various salary reduction arrangements that were in place in 2020 (temporary voluntary salary reductions agreed by various employees of between 10% and 20% for executives; shorter working hours; unpaid leave…). Conversely, for the first half of 2021, payroll costs included salary increases that were effective on May 1, 2021 and provisions for bonuses.

That said, payroll costs rose at a much slower pace than the 25.5% increase in gross margin, making it the main driver in improving profitability. This was due to the slower growth in new hires relative to the business: there were 17,166 permanent employees at June 30, 2021 compared with 16,644 at end-December 2020 and 17,730 at June 30, 2020.

The cost of variable share-based compensation rose to €5.9 million from €3.4 million in 2020. This was because the extension of the vesting period of the bonus share plans from 2 to 3 years, which was approved in 2018, had the effect of extending the spread of the IFRS 2 expense and reducing it over the 2018-2020 period.

Overheads are under control and decreased in total by approximately €8.2 million compared to H1 2020, thanks to the limitation of certain discretionary spending and, in particular, the cessation of almost all travel from early March 2020 to the present date totaling €4 million and savings on office use, which began in H2 2020 and continue in 2021, totaling €4 million.

Other operating income and expenses were minus €4.4 million compared with plus €17.6 million in H1 2020. This consists of severance costs whereas in 2020, the company had received subsidies under the furlough schemes put in place in some twenty countries worldwide, from which the company no longer benefits.

Within the operating margin, the amortization of intangible assets related to acquisitions concerns the portion of goodwill allocated to client relationships in the 12 months following the date of acquisition and subject to amortization in the income statement under IFRS over several years. This amounted to €2.5 million compared with €2.7 million the previous year.

Other non-operating and non-recurring income and expenses amounted to
€0.7 million versus -€7 million last year. On the income side, the largest item was €3 million stemming from the decision to capitalize internal development costs as from January 2018 (the net proceeds were €4.9 million in 2020). It should be noted that this wholly accounting transaction will reduce annually up to end-2022.
On the expense side, the largest items are restructuring and streamlining costs, which were particularly high in H1 2020 (12 million) and €3.8 million this half.

Financing expenses. Net interest expenses stood at €7.0 million compared with €11.6 million, due not only to a significant decrease in financial debt in connection with strong cash generation but also the repayment at end of September of a tranche of a “USPP” corporate bond for USD 185 million, which carried a coupon of 5% and was replaced by financing at lower rates.

Taxes. The effective tax rate in the IFRS income statement is 24.1% compared with 25.4% last year. This includes a deferred tax liability expense of €3.7 million, which offset the tax savings achieved due to the tax deductibility of the amortization of goodwill in certain countries, even though this deferred tax expense would only be payable in the event of the disposal of the activities in question (and which is accordingly adjusted in adjusted net profit).

Net profit, attributable to the owners of the parent, amounted to €71 million compared with €1.3 million in H1 2020.

Adjusted net profit, attributable to the owners of the parent, which is the relevant and constant indicator used to measure performance, rose sharply to €81.4 million from €12.8 million in H1 2020.

Financial structure

Cash flow. Gross cash flow from operating activities amounted to €150.1 million compared with €58.7 million in H1 2020.
Working capital saw a positive change of €32 million at June 30, 2021 but trade receivables are expected to increase in H2 due to the upswing in activity.
Current investments in property, plant and equipment and intangible assets consisted mainly of IT investments and totaled €19.1 million in H1 compared with €20.4 million in H1 2020.

Overall, free cash flow from operating activities, at €93 million, was in line with forecasts for the year.

As regards non-current investments, Ipsos invested around €10 million, including three acquisitions in the technology space since January 1, 2021: FistNet – DotMetrics (specialized in digital traffic measurement), MGE Data (specialized in GPS tracking and outdoor measurement), Intrasonics (specialized in audio recognition on mobiles).

Equity stood at €1,195 million at June 30, 2021 compared with €1,055 million reported at December 31, 2020.

Net financial debt amounted at €272 million, down from €347 million at December 31, 2020. The net debt ratio dropped to 22.7% from 30.9% at December 31, 2020. The leverage ratio (calculated excluding the impact of IFRS 16) stood at 0.8 times EBITDA (compared with 1.6 times at December 31, 2020).

Cash position. Closing cash and cash equivalents stood at €301 million at June 30, 2021 compared with €165.4 million at December 31, 2020, providing Ipsos with a strong cash position.

The Group also has close to €500 million in credit lines available for more than one year, allowing it to meet its €165 million in debt repayments in 2021.

OUTLOOK 2021

The health crisis is not over. Every day brings good news - things are better in India - as well as discouraging news - Europe is threatened by new Covid-19 variants. The experience of the last eighteen months is useful, teaching us that Ipsos' activity is not really affected by the virulence of the epidemic but rather by the constraints brought about by the strict lockdowns. An epidemic wave without lockdown does not reduce requests for information and therefore the activity of our teams. In addition, new methods that favor solutions that avoid physical contact between people have been developed and deployed in many markets, making our business more resilient. Conversely, severe lockdown paralyzes markets and individuals and renders irrelevant many research programs that implicitly or explicitly made sense in a "normal" environment.

Vaccination is the solution. We are still several months away from the effective and massive implementation of vaccination campaigns in all countries, including in the least economically developed regions.
The outlook for 2021 and 2022 is therefore difficult to define. Several factors are nevertheless known, most of which point to a future improvement in the health situation, even if it will not be linear:

  • Vaccination is the solution.

  • The vaccines already developed are effective and their successors will be more so.

  • Economic activity is degraded but not interrupted by the pandemic. In fact, it is currently experiencing a real upturn.

  • Business demand is little affected, except for those in sectors directly affected by changes in customer behavior or physical constraints.

Since June 2020, Ipsos' level of activity has been good. Since January of this year, the volume of work is well above that of 2019 and 2020. At the same time, in contrast to what we saw in 2020, orders are turning into sales very quickly. In the first half of 2020, compared to 2019, the order book was down by 10% at constant scope and exchange rates, and revenue was down by 13%. This year, Ipsos' order book, again compared to the same period in 2019, has grown by 9.8% while revenue has increased by 13.9%. With the persistence of the health risks, we anticipate a single-digit organic growth rate for the period from July to December. For the year as a whole, Ipsos' organic growth is likely to be well over 10% if we compare it to 2020 and not far from 10% if 2019 is used as a benchmark.

The operating margin is expected to be similar for both halves.

A WORD FROM DIDIER TRUCHOT, FOUNDER AND CEO OF IPSOS

I have taken great pleasure in sharing with you information about Ipsos and its market and in seeking, without hiding I believe, to tell you about the passion I feel for this very fine profession that I have practiced for over 50 years. Our ambition, I almost wrote our vocation or mission, is to provide to commercial companies and public or non-governmental institutions, all the information they need in their decision-making. We strive to make this information reliable, accessible, useful, because it is usable.

I founded this company with two partners in October 1975 for this purpose. I am pleased to have led tens of thousands of professionals over the years who share this goal. I may have been wrong at times, of course. But I never thought that our industry and, within it, Ipsos, would lose its relevance and appeal. The development of behavioral and analytical sciences and the ever-growing presence of technology are helping us and will help us in the coming years to do our job even better.

Ipsos's current results are proof that the project we formulated 46 years ago in Paris remains valid today. The arrival of Nathalie Roos in our ranks as Chief Executive Officer is another. Nathalie is an expert business Director with a passion for the world and people. She is, I am sure, an excellent choice to take over from me and accelerate the transformations of Ipsos that began in 2018.
I am delighted that the Board of Directors and I have chosen her. I would like to thank her for choosing Ipsos out of many other opportunities.

* * *

Presentation of the half-year results 2021: Thursday July 22
at 8.30 a.m. via live webcast in English or French, followed by a conference call in English at 4 p.m. For invitation requests, please contact IpsosCommunications@Ipsos.com. The live stream and replay of the webcast will be available on our website in English and French.


ABOUT IPSOS

Ipsos is the third largest market research company in the world, present in 90 markets and employing more than 17,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. Our 75 solutions are based on primary data from our surveys, social media monitoring, and qualitative or observational techniques.

Our tagline "Game Changers" sums up our ambition to help our 5,000 customers move confidently through a rapidly changing world.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has been listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and Mid-60 indices and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD). ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP
www.ipsos.com

Appendix

Consolidated income statement
Half-yearly financial statements at June 30, 2021

In thousands of euros

06/30/2021

06/30/2020

12/31/2020

Revenue

993,317

785,993

1,837,424

Direct costs

(350,502)

(273,947)

(656,902)

Gross margin

642,815

512,045

1,180,522

Employee benefit expenses – excluding share-based payments

(440,460)

(409,917)

(824,709)

Employee benefit expenses - share based payments *

(5,885)

(3,397)

(8,730)

General operating expenses

(83,034)

(91,324)

(173,639)

Other operating income and expenses

(4,447)

17,642

16,408

Operating margin

108,988

25,049

189,852

Amortization of intangible assets identified on acquisitions *

(2,531)

(2,715)

(5,409)

Other non-operating income and expenses*

671

(7,085)

(6,153)

Share of profit/(loss) of associates

(327)

(378)

(711)

Operating profit

106,801

14,872

177,579

Finance costs

(7,008)

(11,582)

(20,576)

Other financial income and expenses*

(3,724)

(3,908)

(8,131)

Net profit before tax

96,069

(618)

148,872

Income tax – excluding deferred tax on goodwill amortization

(21,531)

621

(35,462)

Deferred tax on goodwill amortization*

(1,641)

(464)

(3,457)

Income tax

(23,172)

157

(38,919)

Net profit

72,897

(461)

109,953

Attributable to the owners of the parent

71,987

1,276

109,498

Attributable to non-controlling interests

910

(1,737)

455

Basic net profit per share attributable to the owners of the parent (in euros)

1.63

0,03

2.49

Diluted net profit per share attributable to the owners of the parent (in euros)

1.59

0,03

2.43


Adjusted net profit*

82,143

11,208

130,166

Attributable to the owners of the parent

81,404

12,776

129,612

Attributable to non-controlling interests

740

(1,568)

554

Adjusted net profit per share, attributable to the owners of the parent

1.84

0,29

2,94

Adjusted diluted net profit per share, attributable to the owners of the parent

1.80

0,28

2,88

* Adjusted for non-cash items related to IFRS 2 (share-based compensation), amortization of intangible assets identified on acquisitions (client relationships), deferred tax liabilities related to goodwill for which amortization is deductible in some countries, the impact net of tax of other non-operating income and expenses and the non-cash impact of changes in puts in other financial income and expenses.

Statement of financial position
Half-yearly financial statements at June 30, 2021

In thousands of euros

06/30/2021

06/30/2020

12/31/2020

ASSETS

Goodwill

1,296,426

1,300,932

1,249,331

Right-of-use assets

121,191

141,614

125,270

Other intangible assets

96,119

90,256

88,849

Property, plant and equipment

28,282

35,977

30,953

Investments in associates

2,686

1,788

1,856

Other non-current financial assets

54,023

46,200

51,139

Deferred tax assets

15,678

36,630

28,839

Non-current assets

1,614,404

1,653,398

1,576,238

Trade receivables

358,673

292,116

456,113

Contract assets

184,041

169,936

136,365

Current tax

39,842

15,450

12,511

Other current assets

73,928

98,624

76,089

Financial derivatives

(1,287)

368

404

Cash and cash equivalents

301,041

306,885

215,951

Current assets

956,238

883,380

897,433

TOTAL ASSETS

2,570,642

2,536,778

2,473,670

In thousands of euros

06/30/2021

06/30/2020

12/31/2020

LIABILITIES

Share capital

11,109

11,109

11,109

Share paid-in capital

514,068

515,873

515,854

Treasury shares

(445)

(10,342)

(9,738)

Translation adjustments

(149,133)

(136,277)

(185,192)

Other reserves

728,997

655,715

662,277

Net profit, attributable to the owners of the parent

71,987

1,276

109,498

Equity, attributable to the owners of the parent

1,176,583

1,037,354

1,103,809

Non-controlling interests

19,246

18,278

18,157

Equity

1,195,829

1,055,631

1,121,966

Borrowings and other non-current financial liabilities

396,093

562,388

393,654

Non-current lease liabilities

101,056

122,311

107,250

Non-current provisions

2,143

783

1,743

Provisions for retirement benefit obligations

33,631

34,102

32,862

Deferred tax liabilities

78,272

70,384

60,503

Other non-current liabilities

26,318

21,233

23,660

Non-current liabilities

637,515

811,201

619,673

Trade payables

272,542

232,973

292,382

Borrowings and other current financial liabilities

175,407

185,851

169,250

Current lease liabilities

36,360

39,977

36,913

Current tax

4,470

9,456

22,239

Current provisions

7,651

7,553

7,073

Contract liabilities

40,049

36,317

39,513

Other current liabilities

200,819

157,819

164,661

Current liabilities

737,298

669,946

732,031

TOTAL LIABILITIES

2,570,642

2,536,778

2,473,670


Consolidated cash flow statement

Half-yearly financial statements at June 30, 2021

In thousands of euros

06/30/2021

06/30/2020

12/31/2020

OPERATING ACTIVITIES

NET PROFIT

72,897

(461)

109,953

Items with no impact on cash flow from operations

Amortization and depreciation of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets

38,286

39,930

78,232

Net profit of equity-accounted companies, net of dividends received

327

378

711

Losses/(gains) on asset disposals

(26)

121

152

Net change in provisions

1,641

525

1,642

Share-based payment expense

5,351

3,269

8,458

Other non-cash income/(expenses)

(655)

538

(1,669)

Acquisition costs of consolidated companies

323

615

770

Finance costs

8,816

13,892

24,918

Tax expense

23,172

(157)

38,919

CASH FLOW FROM OPERATING ACTIVITIES BEFORE FINANCE COSTS AND TAX

150,132

58,651

262,085

Change in working capital requirement

32,058

167,318

134,594

Income tax paid

(45,174)

(13,823)

(27,761)

CASH FLOW FROM OPERATING ACTIVITIES

137,017

212,146

368,919

INVESTING ACTIVITIES

Acquisitions of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets

(19,112)

(20,401)

(35,069)

Proceeds from disposals of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets

49

22

285

Increase/(decrease) in financial assets

(1,270)

(62)

(713)

Acquisitions of consolidated activities and companies, net of acquired cash

(8,792)

(12,462)

(13,230)

CASH FLOW FROM INVESTING ACTIVITIES

(29,124)

(32,902)

(48,727)

FINANCING ACTIVITIES

Share capital increases/(reductions)

-

-

-

Net (purchases)/sales of treasury shares

(689)

1,781

2,542

Increase in long-term borrowings

-

-

78,406

Decrease in long-term borrowings

(102)

(79)

(245,176)

Increase in long-term loans to associates

-

(2,904)

(8,481)

Increase/(decrease) in bank overdrafts

366

(851)

464

Net repayment of lease liabilities

(19,808)

(21,147)

(41,671)

Net interest paid

(1,973)

(6,388)

(22,164)

Net interest paid on lease liabilities

(1,865)

(2,369)

(4,455)

Buy-out of non-controlling interests

(956)

(147)

(164)

Dividends paid to the owners of the parent

-

-

(19,771)

Dividends paid to non-controlling interests of consolidated companies

-

-

-

CASH FLOW FROM FINANCING ACTIVITIES

(25,028)

(32,103)

(260,469)

NET CHANGE IN CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS

82,864

147,141

59,722

Impact of foreign exchange rate movements on cash

2,215

(5,691)

(9,207)

CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR

215,951

165,436

165,436

CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS AT THE END OF THE YEAR

301,041

306,885

215,951

Attachment