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Risk management


Austrian Post operates a comprehensive risk management system integrating all business units and subsidiaries. The objective of risk management is to identify risks at an early stage and manage them by taking appropriate measures designed to minimise any potential deviation from the company’s business targets. Risks are identified, evaluated, monitored and documented in their overall context by a Group-wide risk management system in accordance with uniform principles. The Management Board defines the risk strategy and risk policy of the company and sets out a framework for the risk management system. The most important steps in the risk management process are presented below:
 
1. Identification and evaluation: Risks are defined as the potential deviation from planned corporate results. The risk manager analyses the risk situation of the respective business area on a quarterly basis. An employee is selected and given responsibility for evaluating, managing and monitoring each identified risk. Risks are quantified to the greatest possible extent with respect to the potential consequences and probability of occurrence. Non-quantifiable risks are evaluated on the basis of pre-defined qualitative criteria. In addition, the central risk management team cyclically examines the risk situation of the individual business areas on the basis of a proactive risk assessment. The results of the identification and evaluation process are documented in the corresponding IT application of the risk management system.
  
2. Aggregation and reporting: The central risk management team gathers information and reviews the identified and evaluated risks. The financial effects of potential overlapping are taken into account in the aggregation process. Subsequently, the risks are analysed by the Risk Management Committee and subject to a plausibility check. This Risk Management Committee consists of representatives of the controlling, legal, strategy and accounting departments as well as representatives of the operating units. The results are integrated in the quarterly report of the central risk management team to the Management Board focusing on risks and their development. Risks which unexpectedly arise are immediately reported to the Management Board on an ad hoc basis. The Supervisory Board and Audit Committee are also regularly informed about the risk situation.

3. Designing of measures: The control of risks is based on defining appropriate measures aimed to avoid or reduce risks, or else transfer them to third parties. The business areas examine the measures on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis, and subsequently implement them. These measures are monitored and adjusted within the context of a quarterly analysis undertaken by the risk manager.

4. Monitoring and control: In conformity with the Austrian Corporate Governance Code, the reliability and performance of the risk management system is subject to an annual evaluation by the auditor. Moreover, in 2013 the concept, suitability and effectiveness of the risk management system was assessed by an external auditor. 

E-Substitution
Klassische Briefsendungen werden zunehmend durch elektronische Medien ersetzt. Der Trend zur elektronischen Substitution von Briefen, insbesondere zur elektronischen Zustellung, wurde durch die Wirtschaftskrise der vergangenen Jahre beschleunigt und wird auch weiterhin fortbestehen. Diese Entwicklung, die vom Gesetzgeber gefördert wird, kann zu nicht unerheblichen Volumenrückgängen und damit Ergebnisbeeinträchtigungen führen. Ein Rückgang des Umsatzes im Bereich Briefpost von einem Prozentpunkt führt zu einem negativen Umsatzeffekt von ca. 7 Mio EUR pro Jahr, der aufgrund der Fixkostenstruktur des Unternehmens kurz- bis mittelfristig großteils ergebnismindernd wirken würde.
Des Weiteren wird dem Mengenrückgang infolge der Substitution von Briefsendungen durch elektronische Medien mit neuen Produkten und Dienstleistungen, etwa im Bereich Werbepost, im B2B-Geschäft und vor allem entlang der Wertschöpfungskette, entgegengewirkt. Es kann nicht ausgeschlossen werden, dass infolge von Änderungen der gesetzlichen Zustellvorschriften für behördliche Sendungen ein Teil dieser Sendungen nicht mehr über den Österreichischen Post Konzern zugestellt wird. Die Diversifikation auf mehrere Märkte trägt dazu bei, Risiken einzelner Branchen weit zu streuen bzw. gering zu halten.

Beteiligungen
Ein Bestandteil der Strategie des Österreichischen Post Konzerns ist das Wachstum durch selektive Akquisitionen und Kooperationen. Dabei ist es wichtig, passende Akquisitionsziele zu finden und erworbene Unternehmen erfolgreich zu integrieren. Die Chancen und Risiken der Beteiligungen wie Trans-o-Flex oder AEPsind in hohem Maß vom Investitionsvolumen bzw. von den Akquisitionspreisen sowie politischen, wirtschaftlichen und gesetzlichen Rahmenbedingungen abhängig. Darüber hinaus können Marktpreisrisiken, wie fluktuierende Fremdwährungskurse bei der türkischen Lira, eine Auswirkung auf die Werthaltigkeit der Aras Cargo haben. Die Rentabilität der Beteiligungen bzw. die außerplanmäßigen Abschreibungen können das Ergebnis der Post beeinflussen. 

Struktur der Dienstverhältnisse
Ein Großteil der Mitarbeiter des Österreichischen Post Konzerns steht in einem öffentlich-rechtlichen Dienstverhältnis und unterliegt den Bestimmungen des Beamtendienstrechts. Daraus ergeben sich Besonderheiten im Zusammenhang mit der dienstrechtlichen Verwendung. Bei einem Großteil der Belegschaft kann es durch die bestehenden rechtlichen Bedingungen zu keiner Kapazitätsanpassung im Falle von Mengenverlusten kommen, ebenso ist keine Anpassung des Gehaltsniveaus an eventuell niedrigere Marktkonditionen möglich. Das Beamtendienstrecht führt insgesamt zu einer geringen Kostenflexibilität. Der Österreichische Post Konzern ist im Hinblick auf den liberalisierten Markt zunehmend mit den Grenzen der dienstrechtlichen Verwendungsmöglichkeiten für die ihm zugewiesenen Beamten konfrontiert. Die Lösung dieser Problematik nimmt im Dialog mit dem verantwortlichen Gesetzgeber eine besondere Rolle ein. 

Aus Änderungen des Poststrukturgesetzes 1996 und den laufenden Änderungen des Beamtendienstrechts können sich für den Österreichischen Post Konzern, soweit diese Regelungen nicht auf die spezielle Wettbewerbssituation des Österreichischen Post Konzerns Rücksicht nehmen, zusätzliche Belastungen und unerwartete Mehrkosten ergeben, auf deren Entstehen der Konzern keinen Einfluss hat.


Similar to other companies, Austrian Post is subject to a series of risks related to the particular sector and market environment in which it operates. These risks are minimised in an economical manner on the basis of state-of-the-art measures but cannot be completely eliminated.
 
Technical risks 
To a significant degree, Austrian Post is dependent upon its complex technical systems. Its postal services rely heavily on the support provided by data processing systems, modern communications media and other technical equipment. Against this backdrop, Austrian Post has made extensive investments in recent years designed to modernise its distribution and delivery network. In this regard, the performance of the company is closely linked with the efficiency of a small number of key operational sites. Should the case arise that technical systems temporarily or permanently fail or unauthorised data access or data manipulation occurs or collective strikes take place for longer periods, these developments could potentially lead to disruptions in Austrian Post’s business operations, a loss of reputation, customer defections or additional expenses. A broad range of safety and security measures, processes and guidelines have been developed as a means of dealing with all these technical and operational risks and making provision for the various contingencies in order to ensure smooth business operations. Austrian Post is pursuing an outsourcing strategy to fulfil its computing and data processing requirements. Austrian Post ensures the availability of outsourcing resources by its service level management as well as by concluding appropriate contractual agreements. Contractual partners are required to show proof of relevant and valid certifications.

Regulatory and legal risks 
The full-scale liberalisation of the Austrian postal market took place on January 1, 2011 when the new Postal Market Act took effect. This development carries the risk of future shifts in market share. The legal framework for the full-scale liberalisation of the postal sector was defined in this new Postal Market Act. In many cases, this Postal Market Act does not prescribe equal treatment between Austrian Post and its competitors, but places an additional burden on Austrian Post.
 
The Universal Postal Service Obligation requires Austrian Post to provide a minimum offering of postal services of comparable quality across the country, and ensure a nationwide distribution network of at least 1,650 postal service points. Austrian Post is only allowed to convert company-operated post offices manned by its own staff to postal partner offices following a regulatory approval process. The possibility that Austrian Post will be required to continue operating unprofitable postal branches, at least in the short term, cannot be excluded.

The Postal Market Act stipulates that Austrian Post is the only postal services provider in Austria required to provide Universal Postal Services. Compensation for the net costs of providing Universal Postal Services will take place on the basis of a public equalisation fund, which will be generally financed on a pro-rata basis corresponding to the market share held by Austrian Post and other licensed postal operators. Only postal providers whose annual revenue derived from their licensed business operations exceeds EUR 1m will be required to contribute to the equalisation fund. Moreover, the net costs of providing Universal Postal Services will only be refunded in case these costs exceed 2% of the entire annual costs incurred by Austrian Post. Assuming that Austrian Post continues to have a significant market share of the postal sector also in the future, it will be obliged to assume the lion’s share of the net costs for providing Universal Postal Services and administering the equalisation fund. 

The possibility of significant downward pressure on future earnings cannot be excluded if the process of postal sector liberalisation is not accompanied by uniform regulations relating to employment contracts and performance standards applying to both Austrian Post and its competitors in the medium term, and if no adequate compensation for universal postal services is forthcoming. 

At present, Austrian Post does not assume that it will be obliged to grant its competitors access to all its services on an unbundled basis. If this did indeed happen, these firms could potentially provide services in segments of the postal market which are particularly lucrative, and rely on partial services provided by Austrian Post at regulated prices in less lucrative business segments. This could also potentially have a significantly negative effect on earnings. 

The public relations activities of Austrian Post have made it a priority to engage in an ongoing dialogue with all its stakeholders with respect to the issue of liberalisation. The company considers itself responsible for making people aware of the unresolved issues in connection with compensation for Universal Postal Services, and the problems arising as the result of an asymmetric market liberalisation. 

Austrian Post is subject to legal restrictions by regulatory authorities in setting its business terms and conditions (including postal rates) in providing universal postal services. For this reason, the company only has limited flexibility to impose price adjustments for the Universal Postal Services as a means of reacting to market changes. A difference in the definition of the limits to universal postal services between regulatory authorities and the company could be reflected in the design of the product portfolio and pricing policies. 

Beyond the regulatory environment governing the postal market, Austrian Post has to observe quite a few legal restrictions in carrying out its normal business operations. For example, due to competition and public procurement laws, the company only has limited flexibility with regard to its contractual and de facto ability to shape its business environment. In the past, Austrian Post was subject to antitrust investigations and processes evaluating the legitimacy of its agreements and business practices in the light of existing antitrust regulations. Other legal risks may arise as the consequence of unexpected court cases initiated by competitors, customers or suppliers. 

In order to optimally avoid as far as possible any potential adverse effects on earnings resulting from regulatory and legal risks, Austrian Post strives to expand its value added chain and product portfolio in its core processes, as a means of offering its customers even better services and achieving an optimisation of service quality. Moreover, Austrian Post intends to generate increased revenue in the already liberalised areas. 

According to the Postal Services Structure Act of 1996, changes in civil service laws for civil servants are fundamentally applicable to those civil servants working for Austrian Post. Thus, revisions to civil service laws could have a direct effect on the cost structure of the company. Austrian Post and the Austrian Federal Government have varying interpretations concerning the calculation of the pension contributions to be paid by Austrian Post for civil servants who are still actively working. For this reason, the Austrian Federal Government could potentially demand additional payments on the part of Austrian Post which exceed existing provisions made by the company, and thus lead to higher staff costs in the future. In principle, further risks arising from varying interpretations of the Postal Services Structure Act can also not be excluded. 

 Financial risks 
Financial risks of Austrian Post encompass liquidity risk, credit, counterparty and product risk, interest rate risk, foreign exchange risk as well as organisational risks. The foreign exchange risk, for example in connection with fluctuations in the value of the Turkish Lira, can negatively affect earnings. A more detailed presentation of financial risks is included in the notes to the consolidated financial statements of Austrian Post. 

Within the context of its international expansion, Austrian Post has recognised a considerable level of goodwill and non-depreciable assets in the balance sheet. Pursuant to IAS 36, goodwill issubject to an impairment test at least once annually. If there are indications of impairment, goodwill and non-depreciable trademarks must be written down. 

Market and competitive risks 
Austrian Post generates most of its revenue in Austria. If current economic growth forecasts have to be revised downwards, this would force a change in the planning assumptions upon which the company operates and thus limit the reliability of its planning.

In addition, the company generates a considerable share of its revenue from a small number of large customers. The sustained and successful existence of these large customers is an important prerequisite in ensuring the stable development of Austrian Post. Accordingly, there is the risk of losing revenue from individual customers due to market concentration, for example in the retail sector. Large customers are not contractually required to have their mail handled by Austrian Post, and could decide on a medium-term basis to contract the delivery of at least part of their mail items to competitors on the postal services market.
 
The letter mail and parcels business of Austrian Post is subject to increasing competition. In particular, the B2C parcel business, in which Austrian Post has a leading position in the Austrian market, is dependent on the economic development of its customers as well as increased competition, which arises on the basis of market penetration of alternative providers. The possibility of a further decline in revenue cannot be excluded. The company is striving to maintain customer loyalty by offering an attractive range of services. 

All the above-mentioned market and competitive risks could lead to significant volume decreases and thus to a corresponding drop in earnings. 

The above-mentioned risks are continually being monitored by the company. From today’s perspective, none of these risks threaten the continuing existence of the company. 

The changes which Austrian Post faces can also lead to positive deviations from the pre-defined business targets. For this reason, risk management also focuses on identifying and managing opportunities which arise. The objective is to show opportunities and exploit potential by implementing suitable measures. The identification, evaluation, management and reporting of opportunities take place in line with the above-mentioned process. 

On the one hand, the identification of opportunities is carried out by the planners in the business areas (on a bottom-up basis). On the other hand, opportunities are also verified and supplemented by the Strategy & Group Development business unit. For this reason, Austrian Post implements an ongoing evaluation of opportunities in order to be able to leverage the existing potential. A new strategic project to identify opportunities entitled “Post2016” was launched in 2013. This encompasses various sub-projects aimed at more precisely recognising potential which can be exploited. These projects are also designed to once again point out important opportunities arising for Austrian Post in the light of its four core strategic pillars.

The first strategic thrust – Defending market leadership in the core business – considers the expansion and adaptation of Austrian Post’s product portfolio in the Mail & Branch Network Division in accordance with customer requirements to be a major opportunity. Potential is leveraged on the basis of new and more attractive delivery models in the parcel segment which could evolve towards ensuring “same day delivery” or food logistics. 

On the basis of the second strategic pillar – Growth in selected markets – opportunities arise with respect to Austrian Post’s strategic international shareholdings in the growth markets of Central/Eastern Europe as well as Turkey. In Germany the resolute implementation of the Good Distribution Practice (GDP) guideline opens up special business opportunities. 

With respect to the third cornerstone of Austrian Post’s strategy – Enhancing efficiency and increasing flexibility of the cost structure – positive deviations from the company’s medium-term planning can be achieved and recognised as opportunities based on projects such as “Operating Excellence” and other procurement initiatives. 

The fourth strategic thrust – Customer orientation and innovation – enables Austrian Post, for example, to exploit the potential derived from the expansion of its on-line offering, in new e-commerce business models or its range of services by developing new self-service solutions. 

 

Performance

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