Current information suggests that no major changes are to be expected in the market environment compared to 2013. At Dredging and Offshore Energy we once again expect healthy fleet utilization levels in the first half of the year. After a strong 2013 for Dredging the absence of comparable extraordinary effects will result in a lower operating margin in 2014. The outlook for Offshore Energy, Inland Infra and Towage & Salvage is stable compared to 2013.
The project-based nature of a significant part of our activities tends to make it difficult to give a specific quantitative forecast for the full-year result early on in the year. In light of this we are currently unable to provide quantitative guidance with regard to the 2014 full-year result.
Boskalis has a very sound financial position. Maintaining a healthy balance sheet is an important principle underlying the business plan for the 2014-2016 period, whereby we aim for a net debt : EBITDA ratio in a range of 1 to 1.5 times. Total capital expenditure for the renewal and strengthening of the fleet is projected at around EUR 800 million in the next three years, of which around EUR 300 million in 2014. This amount is in line with the level of depreciation and excludes of any possible acquisitions.
The business plan is based on current expectations with regard to global developments in the market segments that are relevant to us, in particular the Offshore Energy market. Based on these plans we expect to realize a return on equity of approximately 12% in the coming years.
Within this framework and based on these principles Boskalis intends to launch a share buyback program for 10 million shares. The program will be executed in the period 2014-2016, subject to the development of results and maintaining the desired balance sheet ratios. The repurchasing of shares is also subject to annual approval by the General Meeting of Shareholders.
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