The Group is exposed to various market risks with particular reference to the risk of price/volume oscillations for commodities being bought and sold, interest rate risks and foreign exchange risks to a lesser extent. To reduce exposure to within the defined limits, the Group enters into contracts drawn up on the basis of the typologies offered by the market.
The Market Risk is the risk concerning the unexpected effects on the value of the portfolio of assets due to changes to the market conditions.
In this context, reference is made to the Price Risk and Volume Risk cases as defined:
- Price Risk: risk linked to the change in commodities prices due to the difference in the price indices for purchases and sales of Electricity, Natural Gas and EUA Environmental Certificates;
- Volume Risk: the risk linked to changes in the volumes effectively consumed by clients compared to the volumes envisaged in the sales contracts (sale profile) or, in general, the balancing of positions in the portfolios.
Commodity price risk
Through the activities carried out by the Commodity Risk Control Unit within the Administration, Finance and Control department, Acea S.p.A. ensures the analysis and measurement of exposure to market risks, interacting with the Energy Management Unit of Acea Energia S.p.A., verifying compliance with the limits and criteria adopted by the General Risk Management of the Commercial and Trading Industrial Segment and by the Administration, Finance and Control Department in line with the Acea S.p.A.'s "Guidelines for the Internal Control and Risk Management System".
The analysis and management of risks is carried out according to a second-level control process that involves the execution of activities throughout the year with different frequency by type of limit (annual, monthly and daily), carried out by the Commodity Risk Control Unit and by risk owners.
- every year, the measures of the risk indicators, i.e. the limits in force, must be reviewed and respected in the management of the risks;
- every day, the Commodity Risk Control Unit is responsible for verifying the exposure to market risks of the companies in the Commercial and Trading Industrial Segment and for verifying compliance with the defined limits.
The reports are sent to the Top Management on a daily and monthly basis. When requested by the Internal Control System, Commodity Risk Control prepares the information requested and available to the system in the format appropriate to the procedures in force and sends it to Acea S.p.A.'s Internal Audit Unit.
The management and mitigation of commodity risk are functional to achieving the economic and financial objectives of Acea Group, as indicated in the budget, in particular:
- to protect the primary margin against unforeseen and unfavourable short-term shocks in the energy market which affect revenues or costs;
- to identify, measure manage and represent exposure to risks;
- to reduce risks through the preparation and application of adequate internal controls, procedures, information systems and expertise.
Forward contracts (for physical transactions for the purchase and sale of commodities) are stipulated to meet the expected requirements deriving from the contracts in the portfolio or for transactions not involving sales to end customers.
The risk hedging strategy adopted by the Commercial and Trading Industrial Area also aims to minimise the risk associated with the volatility of the Income Statement deriving from the variability of market prices and ensure correct application of the Hedge Accounting (in accordance with current International Accounting Standards) to all derivative financial instruments used for such purpose.
As regards the commitments undertaken by the Acea Group to stabilise the cash flow from purchases and sales of electricity for the next year, it should be noted that all of the ongoing hedging operations are recorded in the accounts using the flow hedge method, as far as the effectiveness of hedging can be demonstrated. The financial instruments used are of the swap and contracts for difference (CFD) type.
The evaluation of risk exposure involves the following activities:
- recording all of the transactions related to physical quantities carried out in suitable books (called Commodity Books), differentiated by commodity (e.g. Electricity, Gas, CO2), purpose of the activity (Trading, Sourcing on
- the wholesale market, Portfolio Management, Sale to internal clients inside and outside the Acea Group) and nature of the operations (physical, financial);
- accurate analysis of the time profile of the purchases and sales containing the open positions, in other words exposure of the physical purchase and sale of single commodities, within set volume limits;
- creation of scenarios of reference (prices, indices);
- calculation of risk indicators/metrics (Volumetric exposure, VAR, PAR, price range);
- verification of compliance with current risk limits.
The activity performed by the Commodity Risk Control Unit provides for daily codified checks at “event” on compliance with risk procedures and limits (also for purposes of compliance with Law 262/05) and reports to the Top Management any discrepancies detected during the phases of checks, so that measures can be adopted to be within the established limits.
Interest rate risk
The Acea Group’s approach to managing interest rate risk, which takes the structure of assets and the stability of the Group’s cash flows into account, has essentially been targeted, up to now, at hedging funding costs and stabilising cash flows, in such a way as to safeguard margins and ensure the certainty of cash flows deriving from ordinary activities.
The Acea Group’s approach to managing interest rate risk is, therefore, prudent and the methods used tend to be static in nature.
A static (as opposed to dynamic) approach means adopting a type of interest rate risk management that does not require daily activity in the markets, but periodic analysis and control of positions based on specific needs. This type of management therefore involves daily activity in the markets, not for trading purposes but in order to hedge the identified exposure in the medium/long term.
Acea S.p.A. has, up to now, opted to minimise interest rate risk by choosing a mixed range of fixed and floating rate funding instruments.
As it is known, fixed rate funding protects a borrower from cash flow risk in that it stabilises the financial outflows in the income statement, whilst heightening exposure to fair value risk in terms of changes in the market value of the debt.
Foreign exchange risk
The Group is not particularly exposed to this type of risk, which is concentrated in the conversion of the financial statements of its overseas subsidiaries.
As regards the 20 billion yen Private Placement, the exchange rate risk is hedged through a cross currency swap described in the section on interest rate risk.
The Group policy for managing liquidity risk, for both Acea and its subsidiaries, involves the adoption of a financial structure which, coherent with business objectives and within the limits defined by the Board of Directors, guarantees a suitable liquidity level that can meet financial requirements, while maintaining an appropriate balance between maturity and composition of debt.
The liquidity risk management process, using financial instruments for planning suitable expenditure and income for optimal treasury management and to monitor the group debt trend, adopts a centralised treasury management system, which provides financial assistance to the subsidiaries and associates not covered by a centralised finance contract.
Acea emanated some time ago the credit policy guidelines, currently being revised to make them more compliant with current organisational changes and the Credit Risk Profiling project, in which different credit management strategies have been identified. The Collection Strategy envisages that credit is managed taking into account both the type of customer (public and private) and the conduct of the individual customers (behaviour score). The credit check system, operating on markets that have not been regulated for more than 2 years, and with which subjects to verification, through personalised scorecards, all new mass-market and small business customers integrated with the SAS platform and with the Siebel system. The assessment of Large Business customers continues to be managed through an approval workflow with decision-making bodies consistent with the level of exposure expected from the supply.
The dynamic management of recovery strategies is carried out in the billing system for active customers and through a dedicated management system for those discontinued. There is also a full review of the credit management process both in terms of the application map and the standardisation of activities for all Group companies, with the definition of a new Collection Strategy, fully integrated into the systems.
From the organisational point of view, in 2016 a further strengthening of the centralised management was achieved through the establishment of a new unit within the Parent Company, responsible for credit policies and the recovery of receivables from customers discontinued or with significant exposures. The structures of each single company responsible for managing credit reported functionally to the Acea Unit that guarantees end-to-end supervision of the entire process.
At the end of 2018, once the extraordinary design review and recovery processes had been completed, the mass management of receivables that had ceased – of a limited amount – was transferred to the operating companies.
As in previous years, this year the Group assigned revolving and spot credit without recourse, to private customers and Public Administrations. These transactions led to the de-recognition of all the sold assets from the financial statements as all the associated risks and benefits had been transferred.
Risks relating to the rating
Access to the capital market and other forms of funding and the related costs, depends amongst other things on the Group's credit rating.
A reduction in the credit rating by rating agencies could represent a limiting factor for access to the capital market and increase collecting costs with the consequent negative effects on the equity, economic and financial standing of the Group.
Acea's current rating is shown in the following table.
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