RUAG International achieved an impressive turnaround in 2021. Despite the continued negative impact of the pandemic on the global economy, all financial figures developed positively. Revenue grew to CHF 1,240 million (previous year CHF 1,181 million). Adjusted for divestment and foreign currency effects, this corresponds to an increase of 9 percent. After a large loss in the previous year (CHF -224 million), EBIT was in positive territory again, reaching CHF 70 million. In addition to significant operational improvements, the operating result also includes a positive contribution of around CHF 17 million from the reversal of restructuring provisions and revaluations of foreign employee benefit obligations. A significant increase was also achieved in order intake, increasing from CHF 1,214 million to CHF 1,424 million. Cash flow from operating activities also progressed positively, increasing by from CHF 19 million to CHF 85 million.
This performance is particularly pleasing because in 2021 not only the Group, but also all the business units individually achieved a positive result – and this despite the ongoing pandemic and sometimes high levels of sick leave. In the previous year, three of the four divisions had to accept a negative financial result. The Board of Directors and the Executive Committee would like to take this opportunity to thank our customers, partners and employees. Without their trust and without the extraordinary team performance of all employees, this outstanding result would not have been possible.
Repositioning and divestments
The repositioning of all activities, initiated in 2020, was key to the success of the turnaround. Management, led by new CEO André Wall, set out to make RUAG International faster and more agile, and to align it more closely with the market and customers. The focus was on precisely aligning each business unit with its customers’ strategies and markets. To achieve this, the company reduced the complexity of the organisation, invested in technologies, processes and systems, while at the same time rigorously reviewing expenditure. For its part, management invested a lot of energy in direct customer contacts. Whenever possible, challenges were tackled together with customers. In this way, performance, quality and standards were raised in equal measure and confidence in the future prospects of the individual activities was further strengthened. This also had a positive effect on divestments. The most important divestment completed in the financial year concerned the aviation activities at MRO International’s Oberpfaffenhofen site. They were taken over by General Atomics Europe on 1 March, including all 420 employees.
With the transfer of all shares in RUAG Aviation Malaysia Sdn Bhd to the Malaysian aerospace company Global Systémes Asia, RUAG MRO International was also able to find an advantageous solution for a second area of activity. In 2021, the sales processes for the RUAG Ammotec division and for RUAG MRO International’s Simulation & Training business unit were also driven forward. The sale of the last business unit, RUAG Australia, is also taking shape and should be completed in 2022.
Meanwhile, RUAG Aerostructures succeeded in finding a suitable buyer for Machining, which is no longer part of its core business, at the Emmen site. The business, including all machines and employees, was taken over by fitINDUSTRY Emmen AG.
RUAG Ammotec succeeded in eliminating political reservations and defining framework conditions with the owner to enable a successful sale. The contract is expected to be concluded in 2022. For Simulation & Training, exclusive sales negotiations were initiated with the French Thales Group in November. The contract was signed at the end of January 2022 and closing is expected in the first half of 2022.
Performance of the business units
All four RUAG International business units performed successfully in 2021. At RUAG Space, the streamlining of structures undertaken as part of the strategy adopted in the previous year and the consistent focus on customer markets paid off. In the Launchers division, important key contracts were renewed and won. These include dispenser systems for the launch vehicles of a large commercial satellite constellation and the expansion of the strategic partnership with United Launch Alliance (ULA). In 2021, among other things, the first fully US-made payload fairing for an Atlas rocket from ULA was delivered, and progress was also made on developing structures for the upcoming Vulcan launcher family.
In the Satellites division, the order for the “Sunshield Solar Array Subsystem” for the European exoplanet mission PLATO stands out. In addition, the serial production of satellite structures of a constellation and the development of the next generation of powerful onboard computers made progress. The entire Space division also supplied numerous components for the James Webb Space Telescope, which was successfully launched in December.
In 2021, RUAG Aerostructures succeeded in reversing the negative trend of recent years. A key factor in this was an improvement programme devised and implemented together with the customer Airbus. This also helped deal with a rapid increase in production rates after air traffic picked up again from the spring as a result of the COVID vaccination programmes and the relaxation of travel restrictions.
Milestones on the road to the future were the extension of the contract with Airbus and the start of series production of components for the new long-haul aircraft A321XLR. Another positive fact is that the Hungarian production site in Eger has been certified as an independent production site by the relevant local authorities as well as by Airbus. The entire main landing gear bay for the A320 is now supplied directly from Hungary to Airbus.
RUAG Ammotec achieved another strong year of growth in 2021. The company made particularly strong gains in the US hunting and sports market. Norma has now established itself as one of the leading ammunition brands in the US. The government sector saw an increase despite a fall in training activities as a result of the pandemic. By contrast, deliveries to NATO forces and the Swiss Armed Forces declined slightly.
RUAG MRO International’s remaining activities enjoyed varying degrees of success. The Simulation & Training business unit achieved important project milestones in two major projects for the French Army. In addition, support contracts for combat training centres were extended with the Swiss Armed Forces. Military aviation, on the other hand, suffered from the long lockdown in Australia.
Organisation and personnel
In organisational terms, RUAG Aerostructures has separated the Airbus business with a high rate of production in Oberpfaffenhofen and Eger from the business with a low ate of production in Emmen for a consistent focus on the respective customer markets. In Emmen, the experienced aviation manager Paul Horstink took over management. The Airbus unit was taken over by Clemens Friedl, who has held various management positions at RUAG Aerostructures since 2015.
As part of the strong market and customer focus, positions have been created at senior management levels as well as specifically for the US market to drive business development as well as the transformation of the company in the coming years.
In addition, RUAG International 2021 has placed emphasis on creating framework conditions to increase diversity within the company. In particular, the proportion of women in management positions is to be sustainably increased and exchange among female managers promoted. This is ensured by special internal programmes such as the Women’s Alliance Council.
COVID-19 will continue to preoccupy the global economy in 2022. In its customer markets, however, RUAG International expects a positive trend despite the pandemic. RUAG Space’s order books are well filled and analysts expect strong growth for the global space market in the coming years. Average annual growth rates of 4 %–6 % are expected. Demand for satellites will increase almost fivefold during this period and the number of rocket launches will double by 2025. Further impetus is likely to come from private providers in particular.
The company also expects additional impetus from the rebranding: RUAG Space is known as Beyond Gravity from mid-March 2022. The new company will focus even more consistently on specific target markets and customer needs and will rely heavily on organic growth.
Another successful financial year can also be expected for RUAG Ammotec. Even though there should be stabilization at a high level in the US, the positive trend in customer markets should continue overall. Likewise, a successful conclusion to the sales negotiations for the division can be expected in the coming year.
RUAG Aerostructures will have to overcome the challenges of ramping up production rates by its main customer Airbus. Sales are likely to increase accordingly.
MRO International will press ahead with the divestments of the remaining business units in the coming year. The contract for Simulation & Training is expected to be signed in the first half of the year and a sales agreement is also planned for RUAG Australia in the year 2022.
Under the new Beyond Gravity brand, the company became an agile and dynamic partner to the global space industry in mid-March 2022. The other business segments, namely RUAG Aerostructures, RUAG Ammotec and RUAG MRO International, will continue to use the existing brand “Together ahead. RUAG” to the outside world.
We are also confident that we will be able to press ahead with the transformation from a state-owned company into a globally competitive enterprise with a strong customer focus. And we are proud that we can count on over 6,145 committed colleagues to help us achieve this.
RUAG International Holding Ltd.
sig. Dr. Remo Lütolf
sig. André Wall