The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 significantly affected the financial results of the Stalexport Autostrady S.A. Capital Group. Lower traffic intensity on the A4 Katowice-Kraków motorway resulted in lower sales revenue, but higher net profit due to lower Payments to the State Treasury. The year 2020 also saw further development of automatic, contactless and safe payment methods for drivers.
In 2020, the Stalexport Autostrady Capital Group generated revenue amounting to approx. PLN 289.5 million, i.e. approx. 18 percent lower compared to 2019. Despite lower revenue, net profit grew by more than PLN 11 million to approx. PLN 91.5 million. EBITDA of the Capital Group amounted to approx. PLN 159.1 million.
Higher net profit is the result of lower cost of Payments to the State Treasury arising from obligations of the concessionaire of the A4 Katowice-Kraków motorway, i.e. Stalexport Autostrada Małopolska (SAM), stipulated in the Concession Agreement. Throughout the entire 2020, they amounted to PLN 44.6 million net, i.e. they were more than PLN 44 million net lower than in 2019.
On the other hand, lower revenue was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions, which entailed a decline in traffic on the A4 Katowice-Kraków motorway. As early as in January 2020, the recorded traffic intensity was approx. 5 percent higher compared to January 2019, but in March 2020 it already dropped compared to the corresponding month of 2019 by more than 33 percent, whereas in April by more than 60 percent, i.e. to an average level of 17.7 thous. vehicles per day. Overall, average annual traffic intensity dropped by 20 percent, i.e. to 36.5 thous. vehicles per day, whereas toll collection revenue declined by 17.8 percent to PLN 285.6 million.
The process of reducing operating expenses and simplifying the structure of the Capital Group through a cross-border merger of Stalexport Autostrady S.A. and Stalexport Autoroute S.à r.l, with its registered office in Luxembourg, was completed in 2020. Stalexport Autostrady S.A. acquired all assets and liabilities of Stalexport Autoroute. In February 2020, the District Court for Katowice-Wschód entered the cross-border merger into the register of entrepreneurs.
The concessionaire of the A4 Katowice-Kraków motorway continued refurbishment and modernization efforts on the section of the A4 motorway under its management in 2020. The most important of them include: completion of the refurbishment of a flyover in Mysłowice, commencement of work related to the modernization of culverts under the motorway, continuation of motorway drainage system modernization and roadway resurfacing. In the years 2019-2020, a total of approx. 36.5 km of the motorway has been refurbished. Investment expenditures amounted to PLN 41.5 million in 2022, whereas the costs of work related to resurfacing and reconstruction of linear drainage amounted to more than PLN 27.5 million.
Activities aimed at providing faster customer service to travellers at toll plazas have also been continued. More than 44 thous. A4Go on-board devices for electronic toll collection has been issued since the launch of this payment method on the A4 Katowice-Kraków motorway in 2016. In 2020, A4Go user were given access to a new, online customer service website and the post-paid payment method, i.e. toll payment using a bank card connected to the on-board device, without the need to purchase a bundle of charges (tolls) on a pre-paid basis.
Videotolling implemented in mid-2019, i.e. toll collection based on licence plate recognition using the Autopay mobile app, has been expanded to include the SkyCash app in July 2020, and the IKO app of PKO Bank Polski in February 2021. Currently automatic transactions represent approx. 32 percent of all transactions at A4 Katowice-Kraków motorway gates.
In addition to allowing fast passage through gates, during the pandemic automatic payment methods will also guarantee a very high level of safety for drivers, as they do not have any contact with toll collections at toll plazas. These also represent the cheapest solutions for drivers, as from the moment they were introduced they enjoy attractive, preferential rates. Toll rates for category 1 vehicles changed starting from 1 October 2020. Passenger car drivers who pay in cash or by bank card pay a toll in the amount of PLN 12 at each of the two plazas, whereas drivers using automatic payment methods pay only PLN 8. Preferential rates for other vehicle categories have been maintained - drivers of category 2 and 3 vehicles pay PLN 17 at each gate instead of PLN 20, whereas drivers of category 4 and 5 vehicles pay PLN 30 instead of PLN 35.
The standalone financial results of Stalexport Autostrady S.A. in terms of sales revenue did not significantly deviate from revenue generated in 2019 and amounted to approx. PLN 3.5 million. This is primarily revenue from leasing office space in the building in Katowice, of which the Company is a joint owner. Standalone net profit amounted to approx. PLN 157.6 million compared to the loss of PLN -829 thous. recorded after the restatement of the result for 2019 in connection with the aforementioned cross-border merger. The amount of net profit earned by the Company in 2020 results primarily from financial revenue, i.e. dividend paid out by the subsidiary concession company, SAM, to Stalexport Autostrady in the amount of approx. PLN 131.2 million, advance towards the dividend from SAM in the amount of PLN 22.3 million recognized in the books and the dividend paid out by VIA4 S.A., a subsidiary (A4 Katowice-Kraków motorway operator) in the amount of approx. PLN 10.7 million.
Emil Wąsacz, CEO of the Management Board of Stalexport Autostrady S.A. and Stalexport Autostrada Małopolska S.A.:
The coronavirus pandemic affected the operation of all sectors of the economy, changed preconceived methods of operation applied by business enterprises and changed how work is performed in many organizations. Our activities were also not immune to these changes and effects of the pandemic. We watched with great concern as traffic on the section of the A4 motorway under our management declined due to restrictions imposed in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in April of last year, as lower traffic automatically translates into lower sales revenue. It is necessary to mention that motorway activity of the Stalexport Autostrady Capital Group, including investments in road infrastructure modernization and maintenance works, are financed in their entirety from toll collection revenue.
Investments and maintenance work planned for 2021 will total approx. PLN 100 million. We will mode the motorway drainage system and culverts, and also plan to refurbish bridge structures and noise barriers. We will continue resurfacing work on a short section of approx. 3 km as well as at the Jeleń junction. For this year, we have also plan to adjust road solutions and replace the concrete surface at the Toll Plaza in Balice. Furthermore, we continue to focus on further development of the toll collection system at the A4 motorway section covered by the concession.