CriteriaCaixa obtained a recurring consolidated net profit of 1,187 million

CriteriaCaixa, the company that manages the business assets of the ”la Caixa” Foundation, obtained a recurring consolidated net profit of 1,187 million euros in 2021, 65% more than in the previous year, thanks to the 44% improvement in the contribution of its banking holdings (mainly CaixaBank), and 96% of the industrial and services portfolio (Naturgy, among others).

On the other hand, the consolidated net income amounted to 1,697 million euros. This amount includes extraordinary results of 510 million euros, corresponding, on the one hand, to the impact attributed to CriteriaCaixa derived from the merger of CaixaBank and Bankia (negative difference on consolidation), partially offset by the cost of the labor agreement derived from the regulatory file of employment carried out by the bank, as well as other effects linked to the merger. On the other hand, it also includes the recording of an impairment of the stake in Bank of East Asia (BEA).

At the end of 2021 the gross asset value (GAV) of CriteriaCaixa amounted to 23,805 million euros, 22.8% more than in 2020. Of the total, 81.3% corresponds to listed equities, 10.9% to the real estate business, 3.6% to unlisted variable income, 0.9% to fixed income and others, and 3.3% to cash and equivalents. This composition shows the high liquidity of the portfolio, since listed assets and cash and equivalents together represent close to 85% of the total.

On the other hand, the net asset value (NAV) of CriteriaCaixa amounted to 18,092 million euros, 26.9% higher than at the end of 2020. This improvement is mainly due to the recovery in the prices of the equity portfolio. This level of NAV exceeds for the first time that of the end of the 2019 financial year (17,026 million euros), just before the global spread of the pandemic at the beginning of the 2020 financial year.

Covid-19 also had an impact on the income statements for the 2020 financial year and on the shareholder remuneration policy of most of the companies in the portfolio. In 2021, this has translated into a 16% decrease in dividends received, to an amount of 525 million euros, including 331 million from Naturgy, 65 million from CaixaBank, 32 million from Bank of East Asia, 24 million from Telefónica and the 24 million from Suez, among others.

CriteriaCaixa distributed 360 million euros in dividends to its sole shareholder, the ”la Caixa” Foundation, which in 2021 has continued to invest in the most vulnerable groups in society, such as children at risk of exclusion, the elderly or patients with advanced illnesses. In 2021, the Foundation invested a total of 494 million euros; in social programs (59.6%), culture and science (21.8%), research and health (9.6%) and education and scholarships (9%).

business results

In 2021, the result attributed to the banking portfolio reached €896 million, which represents an increase of 274 million euros (+44%) compared to the end of the previous year. The improvement in the result is mainly due to the fact that, in 2020, the banking entities in the portfolio (CaixaBank, Bank of East Asia and Grupo Financiero Inbursa) recorded significant provisions in relation to the potential impacts caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

For its part, the result of the industrial and services portfolio -which includes the attribution of the result of the stakes in Naturgy and Saba Infraestructuras, among others, as well as the dividends of the diversification portfolio, mainly, of Suez and Telefónica- has amounted to 391 million euros, 96% more than in 2020. This increase is due to the improvement in the business of these investees in 2021 compared to the previous year, when there was a greater impact due to the Covid crisis.

On the other hand, CriteriaCaixa’s real estate portfolio reached a value of 2,585 million euros in 2021, and it made new investments in this portfolio worth 85 million euros.

portfolio management

During the year 2021 Criteria has acquired 1.92% of the capital of Naturgy for 407 million euros, reaching a 26.71% stake, within the framework of its intention announced on May 18, 2021 to strengthen its position in the share capital of this investee, without exceeding 30%.

In recent years, CriteriaCaixa has been carrying out an exercise to diversify its portfolio into different minority holdings in listed companies, prioritizing companies belonging to OECD countries (mainly European and American). The portfolio already reaches more than 80 companies from 15 different countries, among which Cellnex and Telefónica stand out. The vast majority of the names in this portfolio are large leading companies in their respective sectors, highlighting that around 66% of them are large cap (companies with a market capitalization of more than 10,000 million euros).

In 2021, a net investment of 502 million euros was made to expand the diversification portfolio, of which 196 and 29 million correspond to the investment made in Cellnex and Telefónica, respectively.

The market value At the end of 2021, this portfolio amounted to 4,826 million euros, distributed in the following sectors: Infrastructure (35.7%), Energy and utilities (15.7%), Consumption (12.9%), Telecommunications and Technology ( 11.2%), Health (8.8%), Automobiles and components (7.3%), Materials and others (5.4%) and Capital goods (3%). The valuation of this portfolio, which already represents 24.9% of CriteriaCaixa’s listed equity investments, has improved by 31% compared to its market value at the end of 2020.

Within the investment process, CriteriaCaixa also takes into consideration aspects related to ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria, identifying those companies that maintain strong commitments in their sustainability policies, accredited through recognized indices of international sustainability.

Likewise, and on January 31, 2022, the Group has sold the 14.12% stake it held in Sanifit Therapeutics, through Caixa Capital Risc, for 35 million euros.

Financial profile

At the end of 2021, the gross debt of the Criteria Group amounts to 5,713 million euros, compared to 5,124 million euros as of December 31, 2020.

During 2021, CriteriaCaixa has continued to actively manage its sources of financing, renegotiating conditions and lengthening maturities of loans and credit facilities. In this regard, last June it carried out an issue of senior bonds exchangeable for Cellnex shares corresponding to 0.4% of its share capital, maturing in 4 years and for an amount of 200 million euros. The exchange price includes a premium of 35% with respect to Cellnex’s price at the time of issue.

These actions have made it possible to strengthen CriteriaCaixa’s financial position, maintaining comfortable liquidity levels, up to 1,341 million euros, which include committed and undrawn credit lines. The average life of the debt is 2.9 years.

These liquidity levels have been further strengthened with the settlement, on January 18, 2022, of the takeover bid launched in 2020 by Veolia for 100% of the capital of Suez, with which Criteria has raised 737 million euros, generating an additional slack to face the debt maturity of 1,000 million euros scheduled for April 2022.

Throughout 2021, the rating agencies have ratified CriteriaCaixa’s credit quality at BBB+ by Fitch Ratings (with a negative outlook) and at Baa2 by Moody’s (with a stable outlook).