French utility Electricité de France SA announced it acquired electric vehicle charging network operator Pod Point Ltd., confirming previous reports that it would snap up the company.
EDF, which is majority-owned by the French government, also posted stronger-than-expected profits for 2019 and raised its earnings forecast for the current financial year. The company's share price was up by around 8.5% at 11:30 a.m. Paris time.
EDF made the Pod Point deal through a joint venture with Legal & General Capital, which will increase its stake in the EV charging company to 23%, according to a Feb. 13 company announcement. The deal is part of EDF's plan to become a leader in electric mobility markets in France, the U.K., Italy and Belgium.
"This is a genuine change of dimension for EDF in the charging sector," EDF Chairman and CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy said during the company's earnings call on Feb. 14, adding that the acquisition brings the company closer to its goal of installing 75,000 charging points in Europe by 2022.
Established in 2009, Pod Point operates 62,000 charging points in the U.K. and another 6,600 stations in Norway. It has developed a public network connecting electric vehicle drivers with almost 3,000 charging bays across the U.K.
In 2019, EDF also acquired British startup Pivot Power LLP, which specializes in grid-scale batteries and also provides infrastructure required for rapid-charging points.
EDF reported 2019 EBITDA of €16.7 billion on Feb. 14, an increase of more than 12% from €14.9 billion in 2018. Net income across the group more than quadrupled to €5.2 billion. Excluding nonrecurring items, specifically a change in the value of a portfolio of dedicated assets that benefited from a good performance of equity and bond markets, profits still rose by around 58% to €3.87 billion.
Lévy said the strong results hit all of EDF's financial targets for 2019 and were evident of a continuing "rebound" in performance for the utility, which is struggling with mounting debts tied to its extensive nuclear power portfolio and is expected to decide on a corporate restructuring this summer.
For 2020, EDF said it is targeting even higher full-year EBITDA of €17.5 billion to €18 billion. Analysts at UBS and Jefferies said both EDF's earnings and its proposed 2019 dividend of 48 euro cents per share came in ahead of expectations.
The higher results compared with 2018 were primarily due to better price conditions in France and the U.K. as well as strong performance from EDF Renewables, which contributed €1.19 billion to the group's EBITDA, an increase from €856 million in the prior year that was partly driven by the sale of a stake in its Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm in Scotland.
Group sales for 2019 totaled €71.3 billion, an organic increase of 3.5% from 2018.