Detroit/Friedrichshafen. In 2017, ZF Friedrichshafen AG once again made excellent progress in terms of paying off its debt load and met its sales and earnings targets which it had set for the year. During a press conference at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit on Sunday, January 14, ZF Chairman of the Board Dr. Konstantin Sauer announced that the credit rating agency Moody’s had recently classified the company as “investment grade,” - confirming the company’s positive development. “Our economic performance, the new rating and our products, in particular, show that we deliver what we promise.”
“The improved rating highlights our solid financial policies and is a milestone in securing financial independence which is firmly anchored into the long-term ZF 2025 Strategy,” added Sauer, who is also CFO of the ZF Group. “We are making excellent progress in reducing debt that originated from the TRW acquisition in 2015. In fact, progress is faster than expected.”
As in 2016, ZF made significant progress toward reducing its debt load in 2017. “Lower financial obligations allow our equity ratio to go up. At the same time, less debt also allows further growth, for example, through acquisitions and the expansion of our technology leadership,” explained Sauer. “We can once again consider acquisitions if they complement our technology portfolio.”
In December 2017, ZF also reduced its debt resulting from the TRW acquisition by repurchasing bonds valuing approx. $1.3 billion before the end of the normal maturity period. ZF’s remaining bond portfolio therefore consists of approx. $2.2 billion and approx. €2.2 billion.
“In 2017, we made good progress with the TRW integration and at the end of the year we were able to present ourselves as one company internally and externally,” said Sauer. Economically, ZF is also pleased with the 2017 results because the company met all the goals it had set for that year, and in some cases, even exceeded them.
At the 2018 Detroit auto show, ZF is showing off its technology portfolio under the themes of electrification and autonomous driving. The company is presenting technologies which can enable artificial intelligence and a complete set of environmental sensors which allow vehicles to drive and park autonomously. ZF’s ProAI prototype, a central supercomputer which was presented at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017, supports artificial intelligence and autonomous functions in cars, trucks, buses, agricultural and construction machinery as well as in industrial applications and ships.
ZF plans to issue more precise information on debt reduction, Group earnings and other financial facts and figures at its annual press conference on March 22, 2018 in Friedrichshafen, Germany.