Reporting 2020

Report on Economic Position

Macroeconomic conditions

Global economy shaped by the coronavirus pandemic

At the start of 2020, the dominant topics in the global economy were the trade conflict between the US and China, uncertainty over Brexit, the weak demand for investment goods and the existing “automotive crisis”. However, due to the coronavirus crisis, which came to Germany in a big way in February 2020 and is still having a significant impact on the global economy and global goods flows, these issues have faded into the background.

Industry, already weakening at the start of 2020, showed first signs of a recovery, only to face the worst economic collapse in German post-war history with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Many nations and trading partners imposed contact restrictions and plant shutdowns, which led to interruptions in cross-border supply chains and a slump in global demand.

Following the first easing of restrictions over the summer of 2020, a rapid recovery set in supported by government and central bank relief measures, which in the third quarter allowed the global economy to recoup a sizeable part of the severe downturn in production levels suffered during the first half of the year.

With the renewed rise in infections toward the end of the year, combined with tighter containment measures that placed a strain on economic and social activities, the global economic recovery was again brought to a standstill in the fourth quarter.

Sources for this section:

Deutsche Bundesbank, Monthly Report, January and February 2021

IfW Kiel, Kiel Institute Economic Outlook, No. 73 (2020|Q4)

IMK, IMK Report No. 164, January 2021

German GDP down by around 5 percent in 2020

The COVID year 2020 was also a turbulent one for the German economy. From February to April, industrial production fell by almost 30 percent, in large part also due to the interruption of international supply chains and the collapse in global demand. Household spending also shrank considerably as a result of the contact restrictions and lack of consumption opportunities. Thanks to the rapid response of policymakers in Germany and at European level, it was possible to prevent even greater declines.

With the easing of the containment measures, supply chains back up and running and economic revival also abroad, the German economy was able to catch up significantly, especially in the third quarter. This domestic recovery was short-lived, however, and was once again slowed – albeit not as severely as in spring 2020 – by the second wave of the pandemic, which grew stronger at the end of the year, and the tightening of measures to contain the resurgent infection rates. Bricks-and-mortar retail outlets were particularly affected by the renewed closures.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the labor market was, by and large, relatively limited thanks to the measures taken to safeguard jobs (e.g. short-time working arrangements), and the number of unemployed rose only slightly. The trade deal struck between the European Union and the United Kingdom also had a stabilizing effect on the economy. In this environment, German GDP was down by around 5 percent in 2020.

Sources for this section:

Deutsche Bundesbank, Monthly Report, January and February 2021

IfW Kiel, Kiel Institute Economic Outlook, No. 74 (2020|Q4)

IMK, IMK Report No. 163, December 2020

Situation in the logistics sector

During the coronavirus crisis in particular, the logistics sector acts as a major link between manufacturers, retailers and consumers and additionally is a provider of production-related services. In addition to the traditional freight forwarding business, its strengths include the provision of logistics services in connection with the delivery, production and distribution of goods.

The demands on logistics are changing at an ever-increasing pace. These changes are being driven by ongoing globalization, shorter product life cycles, urbanization and new technologies. As a result, the sector continues to benefit from the increasing demand for logistics services, which is amplified by the growth in e-commerce business and returns processing in the business-to-consumer segment. Challenges concern in particular continued pressure on margins, demographic trends and the resulting competition for professionals, managers and young talents. There is also the growing importance of online retailing, which has once again been amplified during the coronavirus pandemic, increasing customer requirements with regard to speed, flexibility and the quality of supply, and increasing environmental awareness among the population. The sector is currently experiencing staff shortages particularly in the areas of warehouse workers, vehicle drivers and IT managers.

In addition, logistics companies are expected to be very willing to invest and highly innovative in the area of outsourcing activities. A key focus here is to invest in transshipment, distribution and order-picking centers in conveniently situated locations. Because contracts with customers often have terms of only a few years, space and handling equipment are often rented or leased. This avoids tying up capital in the long-term and significantly increases the flexibility of the logistics service provider.

Increasing customer demand has led to a significantly greater use of consistent information and communication technology along the process chains. Logistics service providers must increasingly adapt business models to changes such as the increasing influence of the ongoing digitalization of process chains.

The specific challenges for logistics service providers as a result of the coronavirus crisis forecast in last year’s report and repeated below for the most part proved accurate:

  • Additional safety measures made logistics more expensive
  • Plant closures in the automotive industry reduced transports and handling volume
  • The basis for necessary investments fell away
  • Imbalances in freight transport at the seaports result in additional costs
  • Contract logistics is suffering from manufacturers’ suspended production and general economic demand
  • Coronavirus precautions are resulting in staff shortages

With many customers in the logistics industry inevitably reporting lower volumes, the stable fixed costs resulted in a high burden in the first months of the coronavirus crisis. By contrast, e-commerce business grew at an above-average rate.

In line with the German and global economic situation, the SCI Logistics Barometer fell significantly in spring 2020. However, the business situation of the transport and logistics companies surveyed stabilized toward the end of the year and the SCI Logistics Barometer leveled out at the figure for the end of 2019. A large majority of 87 percent rated the current business situation as “normal” or “good” in December 2020. The logistics industry as a whole expects prices and costs to increase. Against the background of the problematic COVID year 2020, more than two thirds of companies surveyed expect a more favorable business performance in 2021.

The German Logistics Association (BVL) Logistics Indicator also shows a V-shaped development for 2020. However, the optimism expressed in the third quarter waned toward the end of the year and on balance in December the logistics service providers were slightly pessimistic with regard to the performance trend for the coming six months. With respect to the revenue development in the second half of the year, however, the majority were more positive. After falling heavily in March and April, the truck toll mileage index also steadily recovered.

A high number of employees in Germany work in logistics professions in retail and at logistics service providers. Aside from its economic strength and its large population, the importance of the German market can be partly attributed to the fact that a large share of economic output is accounted for by industry and retailing. Other reasons include the traditionally high export share, its central position in Europe and the resulting hub function that it fulfills. The quality of its transport infrastructure and its significant logistics expertise also contribute to making Germany highly attractive as a logistics location.

Sources for this section:

BVL Logistics Indicator, 4th Quarter 2020, December 14, 2020including commentary

SCI Verkehr, SCI Logistics Barometer, December 2020

Board of Management’s overall assessment
of the business environment

In light of the coronavirus crisis, BLG LOGISTICS closed the 2020 financial year with a very substantial loss overall. Due to the idle business of many of our customers in the lockdown months of March to May alone, we incurred a loss in the double-digit millions. This was compounded by measurement adjustments and risk provisioning necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The business development at the beginning of 2020 was largely in line with our expectations. However, the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis with its historic ramifications for the world economy, global trade flows and BLG LOGISTICS’ customers was immediately felt in terms of volumes and results. The production standstill in the automotive industry hit us particularly hard in terms of handling, transport, technical processing and car parts logistics. However, other business segments with customers from retailing and industry, among others, were also severely affected. Many locations with e-commerce activities, on the other hand, developed positively in spite of the crisis. Container handling also suffered from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, although not as severely as expected. As our employees’ health and safety is of primary importance to us, we also incurred extensive expenses for protective measures and adjustments to operating procedures.

From the summer of 2020, we also began to feel the effects of the economic upturn and volumes and earnings increased perceptibly.

At the end of March 2020, it was still impossible to predict the advance of the coronavirus pandemic. As things stood at the time, we predicted a considerable reduction in EBT, revenue and the EBT margin. Against the background described, this development occurred in the 2020 reporting year.

Despite the clear loss, on the whole BLG LOGISTICS came through the crisis better than had been anticipated in spring 2020. There was sufficient liquidity at all times and the number of employees also remained stable. We were helped in the pandemic by the fact that we have diversified our business more and more in recent years and have established a broad customer base.

In addition, even in 2020 BLG LOGISTICS managed to keep moving. We opened new locations, expanded existing ones and focused intensively on the topic of climate protection. We will be a climate-neutral company by 2030. We are also consistently pursuing our digitalization and innovation strategy and in this context are addressing topics such as artificial intelligence.

Even though 2021 will still be characterized by challenging conditions and question marks, we are working intensively to constantly improve BLG LOGISTICS’ overall financial situation and, despite the crisis, consider ourselves well positioned for the future. This assessment is based on the results of the consolidated financial statements for 2020 and takes into account the business performance up to the time the group management report was prepared in 2021. The business development at the beginning of 2021 is largely in line with our expectations.

Business performance

Results of operations

Revenue development in EUR thousand

In the 2020 financial year, Group revenue decreased by EUR 93,397,000 year-on-year to EUR 1,065,235,000. This is almost entirely explained by the drop in volumes due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the result that all business divisions saw declines in the 2020 financial year.

The decrease in revenue of EUR 82,357,000 to EUR 521,377,000 in the AUTOMOBILE Division is the result of the burdens on the automotive industry. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has led to the biggest crisis since the Second World War, causing sales to plummet by around one quarter. Alongside other business areas with customers in industry and retailing, this also affected car parts logistics in the CONTRACT Division. Here, total revenue decreased by EUR 11,313,000 to EUR 552,621,000. The positive development of our locations with e-commerce prevented this decline from being higher. Apart from the lower volumes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the high level of competitive pressure and, hand in hand with this, declining average selling prices continued to have a dampening effect on the revenue development in the CONTAINER Division. Revenue fell in the 2020 financial year by EUR 18,782,000 to EUR 263,522,000. Since the EUROGATE Group is included in the consolidated financial statements using the equity method, this revenue is not included in the reported Group revenue.

Revenue by segment EUR thousand
2020 2019 Absolute­
AUTOMOBILE 521,377 603,734 -82,357 -13.6
CONTRACT 552,621 563,934 -11,313 -2.0
CONTAINER 263,522 282,304 -18,782 -6.7
Reconciliation -272,285 -291,340 19,055 6.5
Group total 1,065,235 1,158,632 -93,397 -8.1

In addition to the competitive pressure, the CONTAINER Division was impacted in particular by high impairment losses on non-current financial assets (EUR 37.0 million; 50 percent stake) and restructuring expenses for the individual entities (EUR 20.9 million). Consequently, companies accounted for using the equity method reported a substantial net loss for the period. For more information, please refer to the notes below relating to the CONTAINER Division.

Overall, with -13.9 percent, the cost of materials fell more sharply than revenue (-8.1 percent). In addition to lower purchased services, this is also accounted for by EUR 21,529,000 (17.4 percent) less in the cost for external personnel due to the coronavirus pandemic in the 2020 financial year.

The decline in other income (EUR 18,988,000) year on year is attributable with EUR 11,683,000 to lower income from disposals of property, plant and equipment and with EUR 2,211,000 to lower income from the reversal of provisions.

Key figures for the results of operations EUR thousand
2020 2019 Absolute­
Revenue 1,065,235 1,158,632 -93,397 -8.1
Other income 46,190 65,178 -18,988 -29.1
Share in profit (loss) of companies accounted for using the equity method -61,705 22,787 -84,492 -370.8
Cost of materials -454,905 -528,184 73,279 13.9
Personnel expenses -455,476 -452,245 -3,231 -0.7
Other expenses -131,577 -130,869 -708 -0.5
Depreciation and amortization expense, impairment losses -115,432 -88,869 -26,563 -29.9
EBIT -107,670 46,430 -154,101 -331.9
Financial result -8,457 -8,886 429 4.8
EBT -116,127 37,544 -153,671 -409.3
EBT margin (in %) -10.9 3.2 -14.1 -435.1
Consolidated profit or loss for the period -120,174 32,588 -152,762 -468.8
EBT by segment EUR thousand
2020 2019 Absolute­
AUTOMOBILE -8,998 19,324 -28,322 -146.6
CONTRACT -13,891 7,436 -21,327 -286.8
CONTAINER -67,274 23,699 -90,973 -383.9
Reconciliation -25,964 -12,915 -13,049 -101.0
Group total -116,127 37,544 -153,671 -409.3

Personnel expenses rose in the reporting year to EUR 455,476,000 (previous year: EUR 452,245,000). The reduced expenses for wages and salaries due to the slight decline in the number of employees and temporary short-time work were not sufficient to compensate for the increased post-employment, other employee benefit and anniversary costs.

Depreciation and amortization expense rose by EUR 26,563,000 in the 2020 financial year. This increase resulted with EUR 25,160,000 from impairments and relates in particular with EUR 10,795,000 to the goodwill of BLG Sports & Fashion and with EUR 8,754,000 to the goodwill of CGU Spedition.

The financial result improved slightly on the previous year by EUR 429,000 to EUR -8,457,000. The slightly lower interest income was overcompensated by the EUR 1,556,000 lower expenses from the interest cost of provisions and liabilities.

Against the background of the described conditions, earnings before taxes (EBT) decreased very sharply by EUR 153,671,000 to EUR -116,127,000 in large part due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Correspondingly, the EBT margin is -10.9 percent (previous year: 3.2 percent).

Income taxes in the reporting year were EUR 4,047,000 (previous year: EUR 4,956,000). Current taxes in fact increased by EUR 2,131,000, as in the previous year they were offset by reimbursements for prior periods amounting to EUR 4,868,000. Furthermore, in particular the positive change in deferred taxes (EUR 3,040,000) also had an effect.

Accordingly, consolidated net profit for the period fell sharply by EUR 152,762,000 to EUR -120,174,000 year-on-year.


EUR thousand 2020 2019
Revenue 521,377 603,734
EBT -8,998 19,324
EBT margin (in %) -1.7 3.2

The AUTOMOBILE Division is the leading technical and logistics service provider for the international automotive industry. In this business area, the company offers multimodal transport concepts with global logistics reach and dovetails individualized and innovative technical service packages.

Vehicles handled (in millions)

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic led to the biggest crisis in the automotive sector since the Second World War. On top of the already challenging transition from combustion engines to the new era of alternative drives and connectivity, our customers’ sales deteriorated by a quarter. This had a direct effect on the volumes of all business areas in the AUTOMOBILE Division. Consequently, in the 2020 financial year the volume of vehicles handled in the division’s network was considerably lower than in the previous year at 4.8 million (previous year: 6.3 million vehicles).

Seaport terminals business area

In the seaport terminals business area, the volume of cars handled decreased significantly. At our largest transshipment facility, AutoTerminal Bremerhaven, 1.7 million vehicles (previous year: 2.1 million) were handled, transported, and technically processed in 2020, which was around 20 percent down on the previous year. Our car terminal in Cuxhaven reported a similar percentage decline. The coronavirus pandemic also had a significant impact on material costs and productivity as a result of the important and necessary hygiene and social distancing measures.

Despite the volume reductions, a comparatively better level was achieved in the area of seaport terminal technology. Appropriate measures such as short-time work had a mitigating effect on the business area’s clearly negative earnings.

XXL Logistics business area

The handling volume in the XXL Logistics business area was lower than in the previous year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the flagging global economy (Bremerhaven location: 1.1 million metric tons; previous year: 1.3 million metric tons). While volumes picked up again considerably from midyear, they were still subject to high fluctuations, especially at our Bremerhaven facility. On a cumulative basis, there has been a shift in volumes toward lower value-added business. The Neustadt port site in Bremen reported high tonnages at times (especially for forest products) and a correspondingly high staffing level. A high rate of sick leave, the need to hire additional external staff and the social distancing and hygiene measures had a counteractive effect on productivity, resulting in a drop in tonnage from 1.35 million metric tons to 1.2 million metric tons.

In the wind energy sector, external order volume again failed to materialize. Overall, the business area posted a slightly negative year-end result.

The XXL Logistics business area was dissolved at the end of 2020. The WindEnergy and High&Heavy cargo handling segments in Bremerhaven will in the future be included in the seaport terminals business area and the expertise bundled in heavy goods handling. The BLG Cargo location at Neustadt port in Bremen will also be assigned to the seaport terminals business area from 2021.

Inland terminals business area

Despite high volume reductions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the inland terminal business area was able to sustain its upward momentum and closed the year with a positive result. The Kelheim location in particular made a considerable contribution to earnings thanks to high volumes and significant vertical integration. Increased activities in the areas of lessors, fleets and remarketing contributed to the positive earnings result.

Car transport and AutoRail business areas

Despite the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the car transport and AutoRail business areas also closed the 2020 financial year with a positive result. Despite volume downturns of 20 to 30 percent, new, cross-border transports were gained. The recovery of the global economy from midyear on also led to increased traffic and capacity utilization. Negative factors in the form of necessary improvements to the rail infrastructure and expansion of the route network continue to exist.

The CarShipping sector, which includes car transport by special inland waterway vessels, also made a positive contribution to the earnings of the car transport business area in 2020, due in particular to special orders.

Southern/Eastern Europe business area

In the Southern/Eastern Europe business area, terminal and transport business in Gdansk/Poland and transport business in St. Petersburg/Russia developed positively despite the coronavirus crisis. In particular, empty vehicle mileage was reduced and international transports to former CIS countries were expanded. The business area’s other locations performed as could be expected in light of the prevailing circumstances. On balance, the business area was therefore able to close the year with an almost neutral result.

Due to the developments described above and the high volume reductions above all in the seaport terminals business area, EBT in the AUTOMOBILE Division decreased year-on-year from EUR 19,324,000 to EUR -8,998,000.


EUR thousand 2020 2019
Revenue 552,621 563,934
EBT -13,891 7,436
EBT margin (in %) -2.5 1.3

The CONTRACT Division manages complex projects and offers its customers reliable upstream and downstream logistics solutions. We work at our logistics centers and our customers’ production facilities and warehouses at over 40 locations in Europe and overseas.

Industrial logistics (Europe) business area

Due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic with plant shutdowns and volume reductions on the part of our customers, the industrial logistics (Europe) business area also performed well below the original targets. From the middle of the 2020 financial year, the direct impact of the global coronavirus pandemic gradually diminished and operating business at most of our locations picked up again steadily. However, the production volumes of our customers, particularly from the automotive sector, have in some cases fallen on a sustained basis. It was possible to mitigate the effects of this through countermeasures such as cost reductions and process improvements.

In Bremen, we were able to expand our business with our most important automotive customer on a long-term basis. At the Stuttgart and Berlin/Brandenburg locations, new businesses successfully started up. The business area closed the financial year with a significant loss.

Industrial logistics (overseas) business area

All of our customers and locations in the industrial logistics (overseas) business area were affected by government-imposed lockdowns and the slow production restarts. However, from midyear onwards our locations in the US, South Africa, Malaysia and India saw improvements. The new Retail Services sector in the US was able to mitigate the clearly negative earnings performance of the business area overall.

Retail logistics business area

The retail logistics business area stood out in the crisis for its positive business development in the reporting year. Although the closure of bricks-and-mortar retail outlets during the lockdown led to declines in the textiles and furniture segments in particular, those locations with e-commerce activities fared extremely well. Our Bremen, Elsdorf, Emmerich and Frankfurt locations in particular surpassed expectations. We also successfully forged ahead with the start-up phase of our large-scale new facilities in Schlüchtern and Schlüsselfeld/Geiselwind. The Sports & Fashion sector, on the other hand, suffered substantial losses as expectations regarding the new businesses were not yet met, and restructuring and other non-recurring costs also had a negative impact on earnings.

Overall, the retail logistics business area outperformed the projected earnings targets in 2020 and closed the financial year on a positive note.

Freight forwarding business area

Gross forwarding revenue in the freight forwarding business area plummeted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Sea and air freight volumes were also still lacking. This situation was confounded by equipment bottlenecks (in particular in sea freight) and an extreme price war, especially in air freight. Despite exploiting cost-saving potential, it was not possible to prevent the business area from closing the year with a substantial loss.

As a result of the developments described, EBT in the CONTRACT Division shrank year-on-year by EUR 21,327,000 to EUR -13,891,000.


EUR thousand 2020 2019
Revenue 263,522 282,304
EBT -67,274 23,699
EBT margin (in %) -25.5 8.4

The CONTAINER Division of BLG LOGISTICS is represented by half of the company shares in the joint venture EUROGATE GmbH & Co. KGaA, KG. This company operates, in some cases with partners, container terminals in Bremerhaven, Hamburg and Wilhelmshaven (Germany), at the Italian locations La Spezia, Ravenna and Salerno, and in Limassol (Cyprus), Lisbon (Portugal), Tangier (Morocco) and Ust-Luga (Russia). The EUROGATE Group also has holdings in a number of inland terminals and railway operating companies.

The CONTAINER Division’s business mainly involves container handling. Intermodal services, such as the carriage of sea containers to and from the terminals, repairs, depot storage and trading of containers, cargomodal services and technical services are also offered as secondary services.

The decline in revenue in the EUROGATE Group, despite increased volume growth at both the EUROGATE Container Terminal Bremerhaven GmbH multi-user terminal and at EUROGATE Container Terminal Hamburg GmbH, is attributable to a significant decrease in average prices per container.

The Group’s EBT (50 percent) is considerably below the previous year’s level and at EUR -67,274,000 (previous year: EUR 23,699) showed a substantial loss. In addition to declining average selling prices and pandemic-related factors influencing handling development, the development of earnings also reflected above-average cost increases. Earnings in the 2020 financial year were also weighed down by substantial non-recurring expenses due to impairment losses on non-current financial assets in the amount of EUR 37.0 million (50 percent stake) and extraordinary expense for the restructuring of individual entities (EUR 20.9 million). With sharply decreasing and negative income from associates, a net loss of EUR 60.6 million was reported for the 2020 financial year (previous year: net profit of EUR 22.8 million). For the reasons mentioned above, earnings in the 2020 financial year were significantly lower than originally forecast.


-116.1 million

1,065 million

-10.9 %
EBT margin

Comparison of results of operations in 2020 with the forecast for the 2020 financial year

EBT Significant decline Significant decline
Revenue Significantly below the
previous year’s level
Significantly below the
previous year’s level
EBT margin Significant decline Significant decline

At the time of preparing the previous year’s 2019 report, it was not yet possible to foresee the extent to which the coronavirus pandemic would impact our business. We were already predicting that the coronavirus crisis would have a severe negative effect on volumes, revenue and earnings. In addition, existing uncertainties such as the trade conflict between the US and China, the further course of Brexit, the weak demand for investment goods and the existing “automotive crisis” took their toll.

Against this background, we assumed that EBT and the EBT margin would decline significantly and that earnings would be considerably below the previous year’s level. Our forecasts were based on assumptions that deviated in part from the conditions that occurred in the 2020 financial year.

Given the effects on operating business described above and the additional measurement adjustments to be made, our forecast proved accurate. As expected, EBT declined significantly by EUR 153,671,000 to EUR -116,127,000. At EUR 1,065,235, revenue was down considerably on the previous year’s level by around 8.1 percent. Corresponding to earnings, the EBT margin is -10.9 percent (previous year: 3.2 percent).

In the AUTOMOBILE Division, EBT was down in particular because of the impact of plant closures in the automotive sector and consumer reticence. This was compounded by the “automotive crisis” that was already evident before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Among other things, the automotive industry is challenged by the transition from combustion engines to alternative drive systems. The positive earnings results in the inland terminals, car transports and AutoRail business areas were not sufficient to compensate for the large reduction in volumes and associated losses at the seaport terminals. The XXL Logistics business area also faced declining and fluctuating volumes. Important and necessary hygiene and social distancing measures designed to protect the health of our employees, customers and suppliers had an adverse effect on productivity in this division, which closed the 2020 financial year with EBT of EUR -8,998,000.

In the CONTRACT Division, the drop in earnings was attributable in particular to the industrial logistics (Europe and overseas) business areas with their many customers from the automotive sector. They were especially hard hit as a result of the lockdown measures and the knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The retail logistics business area developed positively during the crisis and had a mitigating effect on the negative earnings performance of the division as a whole. Although the closure of bricks-and-mortar retail outlets led to declining volumes in the textiles and furniture segments, those locations with e-commerce activities contributed significantly to the positive result. Freight forwarding suffered from volume shortages and fierce competition during the financial year. This results in EBT of EUR -13,891,000 for the CONTRACT Division, which is substantially lower than in the previous year.

Total throughput volumes and revenue in the CONTAINER Division were below the previous year’s level as a result of the meanwhile lower volumes due to the coronavirus pandemic and persistently fierce competition. A significant earnings downturn had been forecast for the EUROGATE Group for the 2020 financial year; however, earnings (EBT) were further depressed compared with the original forecast due to extraordinary expense for restructuring as well as the unanticipated impairment losses on non-current financial assets and, at EUR -67,274,000, were down sharply.

Net assets

Structure of statement of financial position

In the reporting year, total assets amounted to EUR 1,194,093,000 and were therefore significantly below the previous year’s figure of EUR 1,288,303,000. Of the reduction of EUR 94,210,000, EUR 59,510,000 alone was attributable to equity-accounted investments. In particular, the earnings of the CONTAINER Division described above reduced the recognition amount.

Key figures for net assets EUR thousand
2020 2019 Absolute­
Total assets 1,194,093 1,288,303 -94,210 -7.3
Capitalization ratio (in %) 50.5 49.2 1.4 2.8
Working capital ratio (in %) 73.5 72.2 1.3 1.8
Equity 59,741 203,364 -143,622 -70.6
Equity ratio (in %) 5.0 16.0 -11.0 -69.0
Net debt 676,904 611,895 65,010 10.6
EUR thousand Carrying amount­
Carrying amount­
Non-current loans 167,436 104,711 62,725 59.9
Finance lease liabilities 536,420 556,491 -20,071 -3.6
Total 703,856 661,202 42,654 6.5
Net debt EUR thousand
2020 2019 Absolute­
  ­  ­  ­  ­ 
Non-current loans 146,387 86,117 60,270 70.0
Other non-current financial liabilities 513,305 511,562 1,743 0.3
Current financial liabilities 228,297 232,634 -4,336 -1.9
Financial liabilities 887,990 830,313 57,678 6.9
Non-current finance receivables 197,729 196,849 880 0.4
Cash and cash equivalents 13,357 21,569 -8,212 -38.1
Net debt 676,904 611,895 65,010 10.6

Accordingly, non-current assets fell by EUR 88,135,000 in total to EUR 903,201,000. The increase in non-current assets of EUR 107,758,000 due to investments in non-current intangible assets and property plant, and equipment (of which EUR 37,868,000 non-cash) compares to divestments of EUR 19,174,000 and depreciation and amortization expense in the amount of EUR 115,432,000, which was EUR 26,563,000 higher (due to impairments, see above). The capitalization ratio increased to 50.5 percent, a rise of 1.4 percentage points compared to December 31, 2019.

A detailed breakdown of the fair values of financial assets and liabilities and disclosures on hedging instruments can be found in Note 32to the consolidated financial statements.

The Group’s net debt increased to EUR 676,904,000 in the 2020 financial year (previous year: EUR 611,895,000). This is mainly due to the increase in non-current loans taken out of EUR 62,725,000 to EUR 167,436,000. Thus, among other things, current liabilities were settled and investments were financed.

Financial position

Based on the earnings before taxes of EUR -116,127,000 achieved in 2020, a cash flow of EUR 27,264,000 was generated from operating activities (previous year: EUR 65,701,000). The free cash flow of EUR -5,625,000 was in the negative range and EUR 75,142,000 below the previous year’s figure of EUR 69,517,000.

The lower earnings before taxes described in the results of operations (change EUR -153,671,000) was the main reason for the reduction in cash flow from operating activities. Due to the indirect method of calculation, the impairment losses in the amount of EUR 25,160,000 (see remarks above) as well as the negative earnings of companies accounted for using the equity method (EUR -61,705,000) had a contrary effect.

Cash flow from investing activities changed by EUR -36,704,000 to EUR -32,889,000 in the reporting year. This is due mainly to a EUR 26,701,000 decline in proceeds from dividends received. In addition, capital expenditure on property, plant and equipment and intangible assets increased by EUR 15,504,000 in total. Lower investments in companies accounted for using the equity method had the opposite effect.

Cash flow from financing activities improved significantly by EUR 57,367,000 to EUR -14,706,000 in the reporting year. Increased proceeds from financial loans (change EUR 75,342,000) were offset by increased repayment of short-term financing from investees (EUR 45,267,000).

In total, cash and cash equivalents decreased by EUR 22,354,000 to EUR -63,941,000 in the financial year.

Outstanding investments are financed taking into account the operating cash flows generated in the divisions, and, subject to the capital market situation, from equity, from non-current loans and through leasing.

Key figures for the financial position EUR thousand
2020 2019 Absolute­
Cash inflow from operating activities 27,264 65,702 -38,438 -58.5
Cash in-/outflow from investing activities -32,889 3,815 -36,704 -962.1
Free cash flow -5,625 69,517 -75,142 -108.1
Cash in-/outflow from financing activities -14,706 -72,073 57,367 79.6
Net cash change in cash and cash equivalents -20,331 -2,556 -17,775 -695.4
Effect of exchange rate changes on cash and cash equivalents
-2,024 595 -2,619 ­-440.2
Cash and cash equivalents at start of financial year -41,586 -39,626 -1,960 -4.9
Cash and cash equivalents at end of financial year -63,941 -41,587 -22,353 -53.7
Composition of cash and cash equivalents        
Cash 13,357 21,569 -8,212 -38.1
Current liabilities to banks -77,298 -63,156 -14,142 -22.4
Cash and cash equivalents at end of financial year -63,941 -41,587 -22,354 -53.8

As of the reporting date, lines of credit to the value of EUR 51.5 million had been agreed but not used.

A detailed statement of cash flows can be found in the Consolidated financial statements. Disclosures on the statement of cash flows can also be found in note 37 to the consolidated financial statements.