Discover the Acea Group online 2019 Consolidated Report

Market Risk

The Group is exposed to various market risks with particular reference to the risk of price/volume oscillations for commodities being bought and sold, interest rate risks and foreign exchange risks to a lesser extent. To reduce exposure to within the defined limits, the Group enters into contracts drawn up on the basis of the typologies offered by the market.

The Market Risk is the risk concerning the unexpected effects on the value of the portfolio of assets due to changes to the market conditions.

In this context, reference is made to the Price Risk and Volume Risk cases as defined:

  • Price Risk: risk linked to the change in commodities prices due to the difference in the price indices for purchases and sales of Electricity, Natural Gas and EUA Environmental Certificates;
  • Volume Risk: the risk linked to changes in the volumes effectively consumed by clients compared to the volumes envisaged in the sales contracts (sale profile) or, in general, the balancing of positions in the portfolios.

Political, social and macroeconomic context risk

In providing services to its customers, the Acea Group is very attentive to the expectations and choices of its institutional, regional and central counterparts. On the other hand, most of its activities are in any case sensitive to the economic and structural dynamics experienced by the economic and productive fabric of the respective regions.

In this sense, the main factors influencing the Group's performance include changes in the political, social and macroeconomic context of reference. These uncertainties can have an impact on the implementation of investments, even major works, whose timing can be influenced by changes in government structures at both a central and local level.

With regard to the development initiatives envisaged in the Business Plan in the Environment Segment (growth through M&A and construction of greenfield plants), there is a risk deriving from the failure of the competent authorities to issue permits.

The Group has historically focused on guaranteeing levels of excellence in the technical and commercial quality of the services provided, including through dialogue models that are increasingly attentive to the needs expressed by its stakeholders in order to put in place virtuous dynamics in relations with its customers, also with regard to payment habits. In this regard, it should be noted that the Group is also subject to the risk of deterioration of its credit positions, particularly in connection with the provision of the Integrated Water Service, with consequences on the exposure of working capital. This risk is managed proactively by the relevant structures of the individual companies, applying specific Group Credit Policies and with the support of the Parent Company's relevant organisational structures.

Information Technology risks

For years now Acea has followed a development path focused on the use of new technologies as a driving force for the operational efficiency, safety and resilience of its industrial assets. The main business processes are now all supported by the use of advanced information systems, implemented and managed by the Group's centralised departments to support the operations of the various companies. In this sense, the Group is therefore exposed to the risks of the adequacy of the IT infrastructure to the current or future needs of the various businesses, as well as to the risks of unauthorised access to the data processed using IT procedures, with or without intent, and in any case inappropriate or not in compliance with current regulations. Acea manages these risks with the utmost attention through specific corporate compliance structures coordinated by specialised Group safeguards.

Commodity price risk

Through the activities carried out by the Commodity Risk Control Unit of the Finance Unit within the Administration, Finance and Control department, Acea SpA ensures the analysis and measurement of exposure to market risks, interacting with the Energy Management Unit of Acea Energia SpA, verifying compliance with the limits and criteria adopted by the General Risk Management of the Commercial and Trading Industrial Segment and by the Administration, Finance and Control Department in line with the Acea SpA's "Guidelines for the Internal Control and Risk Management System" and the specific procedures approved in 2019. The analysis and management of risks is carried out according to a second-level control process that involves the execution of activities throughout the year with different frequency by type of limit (annual, monthly and daily), carried out by the Commodity Risk Control Unit and by risk owners.


  • every year, the measures of the risk indicators, i.e. the limits in force, must be reviewed and respected in the management of the risks;
  • every day, the Commodity Risk Control Unit is responsible for verifying the exposure to market risks of the companies in the Commercial and Trading Industrial Segment and for verifying compliance with the defined limits.

The reports are sent to the Top Management on a daily and monthly basis. When requested by the Internal Control System, Commodity Risk Control prepares the information requested and available to the system in the format appropriate to the procedures in force and sends it to Acea SpA's Internal Audit Unit.

The risk limits of the Commercial and Trading Segment are defined in such a way as to:

  • minimise the overall risk of the entire segment;
  • guarantee the necessary operating flexibility in the provisioning of commodities and hedging;
  • reduce the possibility of over-hedging deriving from the variation in expected volumes for the definition of hedges;
  • ensure the necessary operational flexibility for trading activities not related to industrial needs.

The management and mitigation of commodity risk are functional to achieving the economic and financial objectives of Acea Group, as indicated in the budget, in particular:

  • to protect the primary margin against unforeseen and unfavourable short-term shocks in the energy market which affect revenues or costs;
  • to identify, measure manage and represent exposure to risks;
  • to reduce risks through the preparation and application of adequate internal controls, procedures, information systems and expertise.

Forward contracts (for physical transactions for the purchase and sale of commodities) are stipulated to meet the expected requirements deriving from the contracts in the portfolio or for transactions not involving sales to end customers.

The risk hedging strategy adopted by the Commercial and Trading Industrial Area also aims to minimise the risk associated with the volatility of the Income Statement deriving from the variability of market prices and ensure correct application of the Hedge Accounting (in accordance with current International Accounting Standards) to all derivative financial instruments used for such purpose.

As regards the commitments undertaken by the Acea Group to stabilise the cash flow from purchases and sales of electricity for the next year, it should be noted that all of the ongoing hedging operations are recorded in the accounts using the flow hedge method, as far as the effectiveness of hedging can be demonstrated. The financial instruments used are of the swap and contracts for difference (CFD) type.

The evaluation of risk exposure involves the following activities:

  • recording of all transactions involving physical quantities carried out in special books (known as Commodity Books) differentiated according to the purpose of the activity (Sourcing on wholesale markets, Portfolio Management, Sale to internal end customers inside and outside the Acea Group, Trading not linked to industrial needs) and commodities (e.g. Electricity, Gas, EUA) and nature of the operations (physical and financial);
  • accurate analysis of the time profile of the purchases and sales containing the open positions, in other words exposure of the physical purchase and sale of single commodities, within set volume limits;
  • creation of scenarios of reference (prices, indices);
  • calculation of risk indicators/metrics (Volumetric exposure, VAR, PAR, price range);
  • verification of compliance with current risk limits.

The activity performed by the Commodity Risk Control Unit provides for daily codified checks at "event" on compliance with risk procedures and limits (also for purposes of compliance with Law no. 262/05) and reports to the Top Management any discrepancies detected during the phases of checks, so that measures can be adopted to be within the established limits.

Interest rate risk

The Acea Group's approach to managing interest rate risk, which takes the structure of assets and the stability of the Acea Group's cash flows into account, has essentially been targeted, up to now, at hedging funding costs and stabilising cash flows, in such a way as to safeguard margins and ensure the certainty of cash flows deriving from ordinary activities.

The Acea Group's approach to managing interest rate risk is, therefore, prudent and the methods used tend to be static in nature.

A static (as opposed to dynamic) approach means adopting a type of interest rate risk management that does not require daily activity in the markets, but periodic analysis and control of positions based on specific needs. This type of management therefore involves daily activity in the markets, not for trading purposes but in order to hedge the identified exposure in the medium/long term.

Acea has, up to now, opted to minimise interest rate risk by choosing a mixed range of fixed and floating rate funding instruments.

As it is known, fixed rate funding protects a borrower from cash flow risk in that it stabilises the financial outflows in the income statement, whilst heightening exposure to fair value risk in terms of changes in the market value of the debt.

Foreign exchange risk

The Group is not particularly exposed to this type of risk, which is concentrated in the conversion of the financial statements of its overseas subsidiaries.

As regards the 20 billion Yen Private Placement, the exchange rate risk is hedged through a cross currency swap described in the section on interest rate risk.

Liquidity risk

The Group policy for managing liquidity risk, for both Acea and its subsidiaries, involves the adoption of a financial structure which, coherent with business objectives and within the limits defined by the Board of Directors, guarantees a suitable liquidity level that can meet financial requirements, while maintaining an appropriate balance between maturity and composition of debt, also taking into account the challenging objectives set out in the Business Plan in terms of developing new M&A initiatives. The various factors of uncertainty faced by the Group include the potential economic, financial and reputational impact associated with the closing or failure to close the aforementioned transactions. The Acea Group has therefore adopted an articulated and structured assessment process for these risks, carried out in close coordination between the companies and the Parent Company's organisational controls of the individual types of risk.

The liquidity risk management process, which uses financial planning tools for outflows and receipts implemented at the level of the individual companies under the coordination of specific Group oversight, aimed at optimising the management of treasury hedges and to monitor the trend of consolidated financial debt, is carried out both through cash pooling management both through the support and assistance provided to the subsidiaries and associated companies with which there is no centralised finance contract.


Credit risks

In July 2019 Acea issued the new guidelines of the credit policy to make it consistent with the ongoing organisational changes at the end of 2018 and the Credit Risk Profiling project, with which different credit management strategies have been identified. Also in July 2019, the "Scoring and customer trust" procedure was issued.

The Collection Strategy envisages that credit is managed taking into account both the type of customer (public and private) and the conduct of the individual customers (behaviour score).

The Credit Check system, operating on markets that have not been regulated for a number of years, and with which subjects to verification, through personalised scorecards, all new mass-market and small business customers integrated with the CRM in 2018.

With the May 2019 operational kick-off, project work was launched on Credit Risk Profiling for the three-year period 2019-2021, the macro objectives being the optimisation of the acquisition process, models and tools for managing Large Business customers, the activation of information platforms to support sales and the development of an advanced monitoring dashboard.

The assessment of Large Business customers continues to be managed through an approval workflow with decision-making bodies consistent with the level of exposure expected from the supply.

The dynamic management of recovery strategies is carried out in the billing system for active customers and through a dedicated management system for those discontinued. There is also a full review of the credit management process both in terms of the application map and the standardisation of activities for all Group companies, with the definition of a new Collection Strategy, fully integrated into the systems.

From the organisational point of view, in 2016 a further strengthening of the centralised management was achieved through the establishment of a new unit within the Parent Company, responsible for credit policies and the recovery of receivables from customers discontinued or with significant exposures. The structures of each single company responsible for managing credit reported functionally to the Acea Unit that guarantees end-to-end supervision of the entire process.

At the end of 2018, once the extraordinary design review and recovery processes had been completed, the mass management of receivables that had ceased – of a limited amount – was transferred to the operating companies, leaving to the holding company the activity of disposing of non-performing receivables through disposal operations, as well as the management of customers that had ceased to exist for a significant amount of time.

During 2019, the Group significantly improved its collections capacity both in terms of electricity sales and the water supply business, significantly reducing the respective unpaid amounts compared to current turnover.

As in previous years, this year the Group has set up non-recourse, revolving and spot transactions, of receivables from private customers and public administrations. This strategy exposes the Group to the risks involved in closing or failing to close these operations, and on the other hand allows the full derecognition of the corresponding assets subject to disposal from the financial statements since all the risks and benefits associated with them have been transferred.

Risks relating to the rating

Access to the capital market and other forms of funding and the related costs, depends amongst other things on the Group's credit rating.

A reduction in the credit rating by rating agencies could represent a limiting factor for access to the capital market and increase collecting costs with the consequent negative effects on the equity, economic and financial standing of the Group.

Acea's current rating is shown in the following table.

CompanyM/L TermShort TermOutlookDate
Fitch BBB+F2Stable16/05/2019