The economic environment has deteriorated dramatically since my last letter in August. What began as a US subprime crisis soon turned into a worldwide financial crisis. This led to panic selling on stock markets and massive share price declines. The financial crisis may lead into a deep recession under which the global economy is likely to suffer far beyond 2009.
But crises always bring two things in their wake: . We have taken extensive precautionary measures to mitigate risk in recent years. Through our presence on relatively stable European electricity and gas markets. And through forward contracts concluded early, with which we have already secured the margins on the sale of a large portion of our electricity generation for 2009 and 2010. In addition, we have a strong balance sheet: We have almost no net financial debt. Our need for refinancing until the end of 2011 is minor, amounting to € 1.2 billion, and we can solidly finance all our planned . Last, but not least, in recent years we have focused on organic growth and avoided making expensive acquisitions. This puts us in a good position to take advantage of new opportunities for growth. The price of power plant components, projects and investments will fall now. We also see opportunities in the fields of environmental and energy policy. Whenever the economy is tight, economic issues relating to such topics as climate protection and nuclear power come more into focus.
We confirm our for fiscal 2008 despite the imminent recession. The first three quarters displayed a positive trend: We increased our by 5 %. Recurrent net income, which is the yardstick we use to determine your dividend, was even up 20 %. Furthermore, we will raise the payout ratio for fiscal 2008 from our usual range of between 50 and 60 % to between 70 and 80 % of recurrent net income. So you can look forward to another attractive dividend!
Dr. Jürgen Großmann
CEO of RWE AG
Essen, November 2008