The 2018 business year was another extremely successful one for RAG-Stiftung, Essen/Germany, as the Board of Executives reported at the Annual Press Conference at the Zollverein World Heritage Site on 6th June 2019 (Figure 1). The foundation reported a record profit of 912 M € in 2018. 458 M € of that came from the 3.5 % capital gain of its Evonik shares in September 2018. Adjusting the result to take this special effect into account still gives a record annual profit since RAG-Stiftung’s foundation of 454 M € (compared to 431M € in the previous year). Since early 2019, RAG-Stiftung has taken on the financing of the perpetual obligations from the German coal mining industry of RAG Aktiengesell-schaft, Essen.
“We are extremely well equipped financially for the expenditure that awaits us,” stated Bernd Tönjes, Chairman of the Board of Executives of RAG-Stiftung, at the start of the annual press conference. The end of the German coal mining industry in December 2018 concluded the final chapter of an industrial history which dates back more than 200 years. This also ushered in a new era for RAG-Stiftung. While the foundation was building up its capital almost exclusively with the income from its assets by the end of 2018, early February saw the first invoice for the perpetual obligations. “We have already coped well with the first few months of this new era. It bodes well for the rest of perpetuity!” emphasised Tönjes in reference to the foundation’s continued commitment. He also highlighted the challenges which the mining regions are still to face following the end of the coal mining industry. People reached the future without coal mining a long time ago. “Now we must pool all our efforts to make it a bright future!” exclaimed Tönjes, who assured the foundation would play its part.
That includes, in particular, reliable financing of its perpetual obligations. Costs of some 300 M € are expected in the first few years. Savings are expected following the implementation of the optimised mine water plans in North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland. The current expenditure is offset by high income. The total provision for the perpetual obligations from the 912 M € profit amounted to 7.79 bn € at the end of 2018.
Jürgen Rupp, CFO of RAG-Stiftung since April, stressed the successful expansion of the diversified capital investments by 1.4 bn € to 7.3 bn € (market value) at the end of 2018. He intends to adhere to the strategy of his successor, Helmut Linssen, and push forward with the diversification. To date, the foundation has invested more than 50 % of its assets in companies other than Evonik. “Early on, as a result of the low-interest environment, the foundation focused heavily on illiquid assets with higher returns. That paid off. We will continue down that route, even in a challenging capital market environment,” stated Rupp.
Head of Human Resources Bärbel Bergerhoff-Wodopia pointed out that RAG-Stiftung had expended some 60 M € for funding activities since its creation. A further 30 M € will be added to that in 2019. A large proportion of the funding subsidies benefit disadvantaged children and young people. The RAG-Stiftung’s funding activities will continue to focus on the education sector across the entire education chain, from nurseries to the transition into vocational training or further studies. By now, RAG-Stiftung primarily defines its own projects, which span a number of years, and implements them with renowned partners. In 2019, RAG-Stiftung took over additional funding projects of some 14 M € from RAG Aktiengesellschaft, which no longer had the funds following the end of the coal mining industry. “By taking those on, we are guaranteeing that there will be no breaks in the support for central institutions in the former mining regions. Essentially, our funding is also about sustainability. Our responsibility doesn’t end with the mining industry. In fact, it takes on an all-new importance – and that also applies to our funding,” stated Bergerhoff-Wodopia.
Together with the German coal mining industry, the “Glückauf Zukunft!” initiative, which was set up by RAG-Stiftung, RAG Aktiengesellschaft, Evonik AG and the German Trade Union for Mining, Chemicals and Energy (IG BCE) in 2016, also drew to a close at the end of 2018. As an initiator of “Glückauf Zukunft!”, RAG-Stiftung was involved in almost 40 of its own projects. Moreover, around 100 activities and exhibitions were held by third parties as part of the initiative. “Glückauf Zukunft!” acknowledged the achievements of the mining industry and its miners, and generated significant momentum for the further development of the mining regions, which continues to have an impact following the end of the coal mining industry. (RAG-Stiftung/Si.)