Evonik to focus on Next Generation Solutions in realignment
Specialty chemical company Evonik AG, based in Essen, Germany, is embarking on the next phase of its strategic transformation. Sustainability is being integrated fully and systematically into all elements of the strategy: portfolio management, innovation, and corporate culture.
By 2030, Evonik aims to invest more than EUR3 billion (USD3.13 billion) in so-called “Next Generation Solutions,” i.e., products with superior sustainability benefits. That is around 80% of annual growth investments. In the same period, a further EUR700 million (USD731 million) will be invested in Next Generation Technologies, i.e., the optimization of production processes and infrastructure to avoid CO2 emissions.
“Driven by our purpose, Leading Beyond Chemistry, in recent years we have made good progress both strategically and financially,” said Christian Kullmann, chairman of Evonik’s executive board. “In the next phase of our transformation, we are executing targeted and massive investments in green growth and making sustainability our central innovation driver,” he told investors and analysts at the company’s Capital Markets Day on May 11.
Evonik is aligning its portfolio completely to its three growth divisions: Specialty Additives, Nutrition & Care, and Smart Materials. Around 3,700 people work in the five business lines of Specialty Additives, which include: Coating Additives, Comfort & Insulation, Crosslinkers, Interface & Performance and Oil Additives, as well as in the divisional functions.
“The businesses we are withdrawing from on strategic grounds are being optimally set up to give them a responsible route to a good future,” said Kullmann.
The company said it is preparing to exit all three businesses of Performance Materials – Superabsorbents, Functional Solutions and Performance Intermediates. Evonik aims to find new owners or partners for each of these three businesses in 2023. The proceeds from the divestment of the Performance Materials businesses and the operating cash flow in the coming years will be channeled to the green transformation.
“We are greatly increasing our handprint and reducing our footprint at the same time,” said Thomas Wessel, the executive board member responsible for sustainability.
“Translated into KPIs: We will substantially increase the sales share of our Next Generation Solutions from 37% at present to over 50% by 2030.” That includes, for example, drug delivery technologies for controlled release of pharmaceutical active ingredients, gas separation membranes for biogas and hydrogen, as well as natural-based active ingredients for cosmetics.
“Our innovations help our customers make their products more sustainable and improve their climate performance,” said Wessel. The dynamic rise in demand for Next Generation Solutions is evidence of their importance and offers Evonik above-average growth potential.
Evonik aims to reduce its footprint by significantly cutting both direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions from production and processing. With the support of Next Generation Technologies, Evonik will reduce its scope 1 and scope 2 emissions by 25%, from 6.5 million metric tons at present to 4.9 million metric tons by 2030. This goal is fully consistent with the requirements of the Science Based Targets (SBTi) initiative, which Evonik has committed to.
Evonik said its future investments in sustainability are projected to be profitable: By investing EUR700 million (USD731 million) in Next Generation Technologies, Evonik will reduce its operating costs by more than EUR100 million (USD104 million) a year up to 2030.
The repositioned Research, Development & Innovation unit is also fully integrating sustainability into the management of Evonik’s innovation activities.
“Our RD&I targets are right on track to generate additional sales of more than EUR1 billion (USD1.04 billion) with our innovation growth fields by 2025,” said Harald Schwager, the executive board member responsible for innovation. “Our innovative capability is a key factor in leveraging green and profitable growth.”
Evonik’s aspirations are supported by its venture capital activities. A new Sustainability Tech Fund with a total investment volume of EUR150 million (USD156 million) will strengthen the sustainability targets by investing into innovative technologies and business models. The focus is on new technologies that will reduce emissions as well as on innovations that have a high technological fit with the Next Generation Solutions.
As part of its strategic transformation, Evonik has also reviewed its mid-term financial targets.
“Despite the current challenging environment, we are confirming our core targets: an adjusted EBITDA margin of between 18 and 20%, a cash conversion rate of over 40%, and ROCE of around 11%,” said Evonik’s chief financial officer, Ute Wolf.
In line with the full alignment to high-growth, less cyclical specialty chemicals, Evonik now aims to achieve an organic sales CAGR of over 4%. Up to now, the target was volume growth of over 3%. The annual capex budget increases successively from the current level of around EUR900 million (USD940 million) to a level between EUR900 million (USD940 million) and EUR1 billion (USD1.04 billion) over the next years — as a result of investments in Next Generation Technologies to save CO2 emissions.
In addition to these ambitious financial targets, the updated sustainability targets for Evonik’s handprint and footprint will be integrated into the executive board’s long-term compensation scheme from next year.