The policy of value creation that motivates the Prysmian Group has always been based on effective risk management. Since 2012, by adopting the provisions on risk management introduced by the "Italian Stock Exchange Corporate Governance Code for Listed Companies" (Corporate Governance Code), Prysmian has taken the opportunity to strengthen its governance model and implement an advanced system of Risk Management that promotes proactive management of risks using a structured and systematic tool to support the main business decision-making processes. In fact, this Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) model, developed in line with internationally recognised models and best practices, allows the Board of Directors and management to evaluate in an informed manner those risk scenarios that might compromise the achievement of strategic objectives, and to adopt additional tools able to anticipate, mitigate or manage significant exposures.
The ERM model in practice
The Group Chief Risk Officer (CRO), designated to govern the ERM process, is responsible for ensuring, together with management, that the main risks facing Prysmian and its subsidiaries are promptly identified, evaluated and monitored over time. A special Internal Risk Management Committee (consisting of the Group's Senior Management) also ensures, through the CRO, that the ERM process is developed in a dynamic way by taking account of changes in the business, of needs and of events that have an impact on the Group over time. The CRO reports periodically (at least twice a year) on such developments to the top management. Please refer to the "Corporate Governance" section of this report for a discussion of the governance structure adopted and the responsibilities designated to the bodies involved.
Risk associated with the competitive environment
Many of the products offered by the Prysmian Group, primarily in the Trade & Installers and Power Distribution businesses, are made in conformity with specific industrial standards and so are interchangeable with those offered by major competitors. Price is therefore a key factor in customer choice of supplier. The entry into mature markets (eg. Europe) of non-traditional competitors, meaning small to medium manufacturing companies with low production costs and the need to saturate production capacity, together with the possible occurrence of a contraction in market demand, translate into strong competitive pressure on prices with possible consequences for the Group's expected margins.
In addition, high value-added segments - like High Voltage underground cables, Optical Cables and Submarine cables - are seeing an escalation in competition both from operators already on the market and from new entrants with leaner more flexible organisational models, in both cases with potentially negative impacts on sales volumes and sales prices. With particular reference to the Submarine cables business, the high barriers to entry, linked to difficult-to-replicate ownership of technology, know-how and track record, are driving large market players to compete not so much on the product as on the related services.
The strategy of rationalising production facilities currently in progress, the consequent optimisation of cost structure, the policy of geographical diversification and, last but not least, the ongoing pursuit of innovative technological solutions, all help the Group to address the potential effects arising from the competitive environment.
The Prysmian Group's risk management strategy focuses on the unpredictability of markets and aims to minimise the potentially negative impact on the Group's financial performance. Some types of risk are mitigated by using financial instruments (including derivatives).
Financial risk management is centralised with the Group Finance Department which identifies, assesses and hedges financial risks in close cooperation with the Group's operating companies.
The Group Finance, Administration and Control Department provides written guidelines on monitoring risk management, as well as on specific areas such as exchange rate risk, interest rate risk, credit risk, the use of derivative and non-derivative instruments, and how to invest excess liquidity.
Such financial instruments are used solely to hedge risks and not for speculative purposes.
Liability for product quality/defects
Any defects in the design and manufacture of the Prysmian Group's products could give rise to civil or criminal liability in relation to customers or third parties. Therefore, the Group, like other companies in the industry, is exposed to the risk of legal action for product liability in the countries where it operates. In line with the practice followed by many industry operators, the Group has taken out insurance which it considers provides adequate protection against the risks arising from such liability. However, should such insurance coverage be insufficient, the Group's results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected.
In addition, the Group's involvement in this kind of legal action and any resulting liability could expose it to reputational damage, with potential additional adverse consequences for its results of operations and financial condition.
Legal and compliance
Compliance risks associated with laws, regulations, Code of Ethics, Policies and Procedures
Compliance risk represents the possibility of incurring legal or administrative sanctions, material financial losses or reputational damage as a result of violations of laws, regulations, procedures, codes of conduct and best practices. Right at its inception, the Prysmian Group approved a Code of Ethics, a document which contains ethical standards and guidelines for conduct to be observed by all those engaged in activities on behalf of Prysmian or its subsidiaries, including managers, officers, employees, agents, representatives, contractors, suppliers and consultants. In particular, the Code of Ethics requires full compliance with current regulations and the avoidance of any kind of misconduct or illegal behaviour. The Group adopts organisational procedures designed to prevent violation of the principles of legality, transparency, fairness and honesty and is committed to ensuring their observance and practical application. Although the Group is committed to ongoing compliance with applicable regulations and to close supervision to identify any misconduct, it is not possible to rule out episodes in the future of non-compliance or violations of laws, regulations, procedures or codes of conduct by those engaged in performing activities on Prysmian's behalf, which could result in legal sanctions, fines or reputational damage, even on a material scale.
Planning and reporting risks
Planning and reporting risks are related to the adverse effects that irrelevant, untimely or incorrect information might have on the Group's strategic, operational and financial decisions. At present, in view of the reliability and effectiveness of internal procedures for reporting and planning, these risks are not considered to be relevant for the Group.