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Aquila Services Group PLC  -  AQSG   

Half-year Report

Released 07:00 29-Nov-2017

RNS Number : 7710X
Aquila Services Group PLC
29 November 2017
 

For immediate release

29 November 2017

 

Aquila Services Group plc

Unaudited Interim Results for the six months ended 30 September 2017

 

 

Aquila Services Group plc (''the Company''), is the holding company for Altair Consultancy & Advisory Services Ltd (''Altair'') and Murja Ltd ("Murja") which form the Group (''the Group'').

The Group's expertise is in the provision, financing and management of affordable housing by housing associations, local authorities, government agencies and other non-profit organisations as well as high level business advice to the property sector.

Results Highlights

 

 

6 months to 30 September 2017 (unaudited)

6 months to 30 September 2016 (unaudited)

Year ended 31 March 2017 (audited)

 

£000s

£000s

£000s

Revenue

2,524

2,796

5,928

Gross Profit

676

673

1,475

Operating Profit

193

239

510

EPS

0.42p

0.53p

1.24p

Declared Dividend per Share

0.26p

0.24p

0.74p

Cash Balances

2,238

2,173

2,313

 

 

This announcement includes inside information as defined in Article 7 of the Market Abuse Regulation No. 596/2014.

For further information please visit www.aquilaservicesgroup.plc.co.uk or contact:

 

Aquila Services Group plc

Steve Douglas

Co-Chief executive

Tel: 020 7934 0175

 

Beaumont Cornish Limited, Financial Adviser

Roland Cornish

Tel: 020 7628 3396

 

Chairman's Statement and Interim Management Report

Aquila Services Group plc ("the company") is the holding company for Altair Consultancy & Advisory Services Ltd ("Altair") and Murja Ltd ("Murja") which form the Group ("the Group").  The Group is an independent consultancy specialising in the provision, financing and management of affordable housing by housing associations, local authorities, government agencies and other non-profit organisations, as well as high level business advice to the commercial property sector.

 

I am pleased to announce the half-year results for the Group which demonstrate the potential for our business model and the continuing investment in our services to increase future growth.

 

The six months has been a period of investment in our different business streams, the launch of the Altair Africa brand, the streamlining of the management structure and acquisition of new software to maintain control of overheads while the business grows, and adjusting our offering to take into account the government's recent announcements about increasing funding streams for affordable housing, particularly with the involvement of local authorities.

 

All the above have required significant resources for future benefit but have impacted on our six months' results.  We are confident that this investment will start to bear fruit in the second half of the year and thereafter.  This confidence is reflected in our continuation of the progressive dividend policy for the half year.

 

Trading results

The Group saw a decrease in turnover for the 6 months to 30 September 2016 to the 6 months to 30 September 2017.  Gross profit was £676k (September 2016: £673k, March 2017: £1,475k) with operating profit before share option charge of £263k (September 2016: £307k, March 2017: £658k). 

 

6 months to 30 September 2017 (unaudited)

6 months to 30 September 2016 (unaudited)

Year ended 31 March 2017 (audited)

 

£000s

£000s

£000s

Turnover

2,524

2,796

5,928

Gross profit

676

673

1,475

Operating profit (before share option charge)

263

307

658

Share option charge

70

68

148

Operating profit (after share option charge)

193

239

510

 

The Group is in a very strong net asset position, with over £2.2m in cash held at 30 September 2017.

Dividend

 

The directors propose to declare an increased interim dividend of 0.26p (2016: 0.24p) per share which will be paid on 22 December 2017 to shareholders on the register at 8 December 2017.

 

Business Review

 

The underlying business remains strong and there has been continued growth of the client base in both Altair's consultancy business and the treasury advice business of Murja which was rebranded as Aquila Treasury and Finance Solutions (ATFS) as from 14 November 2017.  The most pressing restriction on business growth is the recruitment and retention of staff with on-the-ground experience and reputation in our sector.  We are addressing this through a new recruitment initiative and an in-depth in-house training programme and our acquisition of the pod business.  Our commitment to wider share ownership amongst all staff will assist retention.

 

As announced on 27 October 2017 the housing consultancy business of the pod Partnership was purchased by the Group and will be part of the Altair business.  The consideration of £1,710,000 was satisfied by the issue of 2,614,458 new ordinary shares and £625,000 of cash.  During the previous 12 months to 31 March 2017 the annual turnover of the pod business was £1.085m with an operating profit of £162k.  This acquisition is a significant increase in our development and project management capacity particularly with local authorities and housing associations now being given greater incentives to develop new affordable housing. We anticipate this will be one of the engines for future growth.

 

During the six months the Group's first international brand, Altair Africa, was launched to benefit from the increasing concentration of infrastructure funds, governments and government-backed financial institutions in the creation of an affordable housing sector and a volume construction industry in Africa.  The brand is being serviced initially by an identified team of three employees within Altair and has already secured three major contracts.  We believe that this is an area of significant potential growth and business diversity.

 

During October 2017, the Prime Minister announced at the Conservative Party Conference significant incentives for local authorities to invest in new affordable housing, as well as indicating that some of the rental restrictions on housing association tenancies would be relaxed with much of the additional revenue expected to be invested in additional affordable housing.  Later in October the Communities Secretary trailed the possibility of more government borrowing to increase housing supply.  The Group has been reorganising part of its offering particularly in recruitment, research and project management to take account of this future opportunity.

 

As the Group grows, we have been adjusting the management structure so that it better reflects the workstreams.  This concentration on specialism is needed to deal with the larger teams and increasing complexity of our offering.  This new structure is now in place and the expected benefits should start to flow in the second half of the year.

 

Turnover for the six months was lower than for the previous six months principally due to housing associations and local authorities delaying temporary or interim appointments whilst the future was so uncertain.  The recent announcements should increase demand in the second half.  Gross profit margin increased from 24% to 27% from 30 September 2016 to 30 September 2017 but operating profit reduced from 35% of gross profit to 28% reflecting the resource issues described above.

 

This review would not be complete without mentioning the tragic event at Grenfell Tower.  This has highlighted not just the importance of the quality of build of affordable housing but it has also put firmly in the spotlight how important good management practice is and the involvement of the consumers of affordable housing.  As a business committed to helping our clients address housing need, the concerns raised must be part of our culture as well as our clients.

 

Risk and Uncertainties

The Directors do not consider that the principal risks and uncertainties have changed since the publication of the annual report for the year ended 31 March 2017, which contains a detailed explanation of the risks relevant to the Group on page 9, and is available at:

http://aquilaservicesgroup.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Aquila-Services-Group-plc-2017-Accounts-v2.5.pdf

Outlook

The first six months has been a period of investing for growth which we confidently expect will be a platform for the future.  The increasing importance of housing in both the economic and political spheres, will continue to offer further opportunities.  Being a relatively small organisation, pursuing new opportunities inevitably requires a diversion of resources and costs.  This investment will make the group's expertise increasingly attractive to government, our clients and potential acquisitions. 

 

The setting up of Altair Africa is an indication of how our expertise can be used more widely in a variety of markets.  We expect to continue to build this international profile.

 

This is my first report as Chair, having taken over from Jeff Zitron who stepped down on 27 July 2017 after six years as Chairman.  Jeff stays on as a non-executive director and I know that my thanks to him are echoed by all our staff and shareholders.

 

I look forward to reporting to you further after the year end.

 

 

 

Derek Joseph

Chair

28 November 2017

 

 

 

Directors' Report

Substantial Shareholdings

As at 30 September 2017, the Company was aware of the following notifiable interests in its voting rights:


Number of

Percentage of

Nature of


Ordinary shares

Voting rights

holding

Richard Wollenberg*

3,808,406

11.7%

Direct

Steven Douglas

3,279,440

10.0%

Direct

Chris Wood

3,279,440

10.0%

Direct

Susan Kane

3,279,440

10.0%

Direct

Fiona Underwood**

3,279,440

10.0%

Direct

Derek Joseph

2,870,403

8.8%

Direct

Jeffrey Zitron

2,798,403

8.6%

Direct

Cardiff Property plc***

1,000,000

3.1%

Direct

 

*Includes shares held by immediate family members of Richard Wollenberg

**Fiona Underwood's shares are held in a nominee account at Old Mutual plc.

***Richard Wollenberg holds 44.17% of the issued share capital and voting rights of Cardiff Property plc.

 

Following the acquisition on 27 October as detailed in the notes to the accounts under subsequent events, the percentage of voting rights has changed but the shareholdings of the above members remain the same. 

Related Party Transactions

During the 6 months to 30 September 2017, the non-executive directors were paid fees of £6,375 (6 months to September 2016: £6,139)

During the 6 months to 30 September 2017, the Group charged £9,686 (6 months to September 2016: £12,030) to DMJ Consultancy Services Limited for office costs and secretarial services, a company in which Derek Joseph is a director and shareholder.

Remuneration of Directors and key management personnel

 

The remuneration of the directors, who are the key management personnel of the Group, is set out below.

 

6 months to 30 September 2017 (unaudited)

6 months to 30 September 2016 (unaudited)

Year ended 31 March 2017

(audited)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short-term employee benefits

316,512

268,637

694,790

 

Share-based payments

56,500

39,452

112,956

 

Post-retirement benefits

8,850

6,000

12,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

381,862

314,089

819,746

 

Corporate Governance

The UK Corporate Governance Code (September 2014) (the code), as appended to the listing rules, sets out Principles of Good Corporate governance and code provisions which are applicable to listed companies incorporated in the United Kingdom.  As a standard listed company, the Company is not subject to the UK Corporate Governance Code but the Board recognises the value of applying the principles of the code where appropriate and proportionate and endeavours to do so where practicable.

Responsibility Statement

The Directors, whose names and functions are set out at the end of this report, are responsible for preparing the Unaudited Interim Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements in accordance with the Disclosure and Transparency Rules of the United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority ('DTR') and with International Accounting Standard 34 on Interim Financial reporting (IAS34).  The Directors confirm that, to the best of their knowledge, this unaudited interim condensed consolidated report has been prepared in accordance with IAS34 as adopted by the European Union.  The interim management report includes a fair review of the information required by DTR 4.2.7 and DTR 4.2.8 namely:

§ an indication of key events occurred during the period and their impact on the unaudited interim condensed consolidated financial statements and a description of the principal risks and uncertainties for the second half of the financial year, and

§ related party transactions that have taken place during the period and that have materially affected the financial position or the performance of the business during that period.

 

Susan Kane

Director

28 November 2017

 

Condensed Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income

For the six months ended 30 September 2017

 

 

Six months to 30 September 2017

Six months to 30 September 2016

Year ended

31 March

2017

 

(unaudited)

(unaudited)

(audited)

 

£

£

£

 

 

 

 

Revenue

            2,524,200

            2,795,959

5,928,201

Cost of sales

(1,848,222)

(2,123,315)

(4,453,466)

 

 

 

 

Gross profit

675,978

672,644

1,474,735

 

 

 

 

Administrative expenses

(482,896)

(434,100)

(964,692)

 

 

 

 

Operating profit

193,082

238,544

510,043

 

 

 

 

Finance income

887

2,507

5,512

 

 

 

 

Profit before taxation

193,969

241,051

515,555

 

 

 

 

Income tax expense

(58,191)

(69,756)

(111,345)

 

 

 

 

Profit and total comprehensive income for the period

135,778

171,295

404,210

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earnings per share attributable to owners of the parent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weighted average number of shares:

 

 

 

-     Basic

32,651,003

32,615,625

32,633,381

-     Diluted

37,357,238

36,916,490

37,301,635

 

 

 

Basic earnings per share

          0.42p

0.53p

1.24p

Diluted earnings per share

          0.36p

0.46p

1.08p

 

 

 

 

 

 

Condensed Consolidated Statement of Financial Position

As at 30 September 2017

 

 

30 September 2017

30 September 2016

31 March

2017

 

(unaudited)

(unaudited)

(audited)

 

£

£

£

Non-current assets

 

 

 

Intangible assets

317,688

317,688

317,688

Property, plant and equipment

71,241

15,936

50,559

 

 

 

 

 

388,929

333,624

368,247

 

 

 

 

Current assets

 

 

 

Trade and other receivables

1,210,162

1,358,670

1,350,187

Deferred tax assets

-

3,774

-

Cash and bank balances

2,237,725

2,173,626

2,312,600

 

 

 

 

 

3,447,887

3,536,070

3,662,787

 

 

 

 

Current liabilities

 

 

 

Trade and other payables

657,474

930,663

951,923

Corporation tax

192,944

228,628

134,753

 

 

 

 

 

850,418

1,159,291

1,086,676

 

 

 

 

Net Current assets

2,597,469

2,376,779

2,576,111

 

 

 

 

Net assets

2,986,398

2,710,403

2,944,358

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Equity and Liabilities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share capital

1,632,550

1,632,550

1,632,550

Share premium account

533,235

533,235

533,235

Reverse acquisition reserve

(4,771,473)

(4,771,473)

(4,771,473)

Merger reserve

7,184,334

7,184,334

7,184,334

Share-based payment reserve

491,908

342,989

422,391

Retained losses

(2,084,156)

(2,211,232)

(2,056,679)

 

 

 

 

Equity attributable to the owners of the parent

2,986,398

2,710,403

2,944,358






Condensed Consolidated Statement of Changes in Equity

 

Share capital

Share premium account

Reverse acquisition reserve

Merger relief reserve

Share based payments reserve

Retained losses

Total equity

 

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As at 1 April 2016

1,630,434

533,235

(4,771,473)

7,184,334

281,586

(2,245,895)

2,612,221

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Issue of shares

2,116

-

-

-

-

-

2,116

Total comprehensive income

-

-

-

-

-

171,295

171,295

Transfer on exercise of options

-

-

-

-

(6,846)

6,846

-

Share based payment

-

-

-

-

68,249

-

68,249

Dividend

-

-

-

-

-

(143,478)

(143,478)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As at 30 September 2016

1,632,550

533,235

(4,771,473)

7,184,334

342,989

(2,211,232)

2,710,403

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total comprehensive income

-

-

-

-

-

232,915

232,915

Share based payment

-

-

-

-

79,402

-

79,402

Dividend

-

-

-

-

-

(78,362)

(78,362)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As at 1 April 2017

1,632,550

533,235

(4,771,473)

7,184,334

422,391

(2,056,679)

2,944,358

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total comprehensive income

-

-

-

-

-

135,778

134,730

Share based payment

-

-

-

-

69,517

-

70,565

Dividend

-

-

-

-

-

(163,255)

(163,255)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As at 30 September 2017

1,632,550

533,235

(4,771,473)

7,184,334

491,908

(2,084,156)

2,986,398

 

 

 


Condensed Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows

For the six months ended 30 September 2017

 

 

Six months to 30 September

Six months to 30 September

Year ended

31 March

 

2017

2016

2017

 

(unaudited)

(unaudited)

(audited)

 

£

£

£

Cash flow from operating activities

 

 

 

Profit for the period

135,778

171,295

404,210

Interest received

(887)

(2,507)

(5,512)

Income tax expense

58,191

69,756

111,345

Share based payment charge

69,517

68,249

147,651

Depreciation

12,685

4,050

11,694

 

 

 

 

Operating cash flows before movement in working capital

275,284

310,843

669,388

 

 

 

 

Decrease/(Increase) in trade and other receivables

140,025

(199,834)

(191,351)

(Decrease) in trade and other payables

(294,449)

(345,838)

(324,578)

 

 

 

 

Cash generated by/(used in) operations

120,860

(234,829)

153,459

 

 

 

 

Income taxes paid

-

-

(131,690)

 

 

 

 

Net cash inflow/(outflow) from operating activities

120,860

(234,829)

21,769

 

 

 

 

Cash flow from investing activities

 

 

 

Interest received

887

2,507

5,512

Purchase of property, plant and equipment

(33,367)

(5,332)

(47,599)

 

 

 

 

Net cash outflow from investing activities

(32,480)

(2,825)

(42,087)

 

 

 

 

Cash flows from financing activities

 

 

 

Proceeds of share issue

-

2,116

2,116

Dividends paid

(163,255)

(143,478)

(221,840)

 

 

 

 

Net cash outflow from financing activities

(163,255)

(141,362)

(219,724)

 

 

 

 

Net decrease in cash and cash equivalents

(74,875)

(379,016)

(240,042)

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of the period

2,312,600

2,552,642

2,552,642

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents at end of the period

2,237,725

2,173,626

2,312,600

 

Notes to the Condensed set of Financial Statements

for the six months ended 30 September 2017

1.   General information

The Company and its subsidiaries (together ''the Group'') are a major provider of consultancy services to organisations that develop, fund or manage affordable housing.

The Company is a public limited company domiciled in the United Kingdom and incorporated under registered number 08988813 in England and Wales.  The Company's registered office is Tempus Wharf, 29a Bermondsey Wall West, London, SE16 4SA.

2.   Basis of preparation

The unaudited condensed consolidated interim financial statements of the Group have been prepared on the basis of the accounting policies, presentation, methods of computation and estimation techniques used in the preparation of the audited accounts for the period ended 31 March 2017 and expected to be adopted in the financial information by the Company in preparing its annual report for the year ending 31 March 2018.

This interim consolidated financial information for the six months ended 30 September 2017 has been prepared in accordance with IAS 34, 'Interim financial reporting'.  This interim consolidated financial information is not the Group's statutory financial statements and should be read in conjunction with the annual financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2017, which have been prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) and have been delivered to the Registrar of Companies.  The auditors have reported on those accounts; their report was unqualified, did not include references to any matters to which the auditors drew attention by way of emphasis of matter without qualifying their report and did not contain statements under section 498(2) or (3) of the Companies Act 2006.

The interim consolidated financial information for the six months ended 30 September 2017 is unaudited.  In the opinion of the Directors, the interim consolidated financial information presents fairly the financial position, and results from operations and cash flows for the period.

The Directors have made an assessment of the Group's ability to continue as a going concern and are satisfied that the Group has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future.  The Group, therefore, continues to adopt the going concern basis in preparing its consolidated financial statements.

The financial statements are presented in sterling, which is the Group's functional currency as the UK is the primary environment in which it operates.

3.   Segmental analysis

The Directors are of the opinion that the business of the Group is in a single activity.  Nearly all business is conducted in sterling and within the UK.  Some fees are received in Euros and US Dollars but in the director's opinion these amounts are not significant and any changes in exchange rates would not have a material impact on the Group.

4.   Share capital

The Company has one class of share in issue being ordinary shares with a par value of 5p.

Allotted, issued and called up ordinary shares of £0.05 each:

 

 

Number

£

 

 

 

 

As at 1 April 2016

 

32,608,688

1,630,434

Issued during the period

 

42,315

2,116

 

 

 

 

As at 30 September 2016

 

32,651,003

1,632,550

Issued during the period

 

-

-

 

 

 

 

As at 31 March 2017

 

32,651,003

1,632,550

Issued during the period

 

-

-

 

 

 

 

As at 30 September 2017

 

32,651,003

1,632,550

 

 

 

 

 

As at 1 April 2017, 4,706,235 options were held by Directors and employees of the group.

On 16 June 2017, 10,000 options were returned by an employee who left the business.

As at 30 September 2017 a total of 4,696,235 options were held by Directors and employees of the group.

Option exercise price are in a range of 5p to 29.5p.

5.   Going concern

The Group has sufficient financial resources to enable it to continue its operational activities for the foreseeable future.  Accordingly, the Directors consider it appropriate to adopt the going concern basis in preparing these interim accounts.

6.   Dividend

An interim dividend of 0.26p will be paid on 22nd December 2017 to shareholders on the register at 8th December 2017 at a cost of £91,690.

7.   Subsequent events

On 27th October 2017 Aquila purchased the business and assets of the housing consultancy business stream of pod partnership limited and pod LLP for a consideration of £1,710,00 satisfied by the issue of 2,614,458 new ordinary shares and £625,000 of cash. 

 

Financial Calendar

Year

Date

Comments

2017

29 November

Interim results 2017 announced

 

7 December

Ex-dividend date

 

22 December

Payment date for interim

2018

31 March

End of accounting year

 

By 30 July

2018 Annual Financial Report to be published and announced

 

July / August

Annual General Meeting

 

September

Final dividend to be paid

 


This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange
 
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Half-year Report - RNS