FY2021 was a year of challenge and change for Link Group, during which we have shown resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued to make progress on our Global Transformation program, whilst also simplifying the business by reorganising segment reporting to reflect 4 global Business Units and our strategic interest in PEXA. Link Group believes that this reorganisation along global business lines with clearly defined strategic priorities and growth opportunities will provide greater transparency of performance. In addition, the successful IPO of PEXA in July 2021 now provides full valuation transparency for investors in respect of this important equity accounted investment 1.
Whilst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Non-Recurring Revenues through lower interest rates and ongoing market uncertainty, lower operating financial measures compared to FY2020 also reflect:
- normalisation of project revenue following elevated levels of regulatory change in FY2020 (PYS, PMIF and ERS) 2 in Retirement and Superannuation Solutions (RSS);
- portfolio run-off and lack of new business opportunities in Banking and Credit Management (BCM);
- impact of fund consolidation and reduced new fund inflows and launches in Fund Solutions (FS); and
- sale of Link Market Services (South Africa) in October 2020 resulting in only a part-year contribution, thereby impacting Corporate Markets (CM).
The net loss after tax of Link Group for FY2021 was $162.7 million, which was behind FY2020’s net loss of $102.5 million. This statutory loss resulted from an impairment charge of $182.8 million (comprised of $173.1 million in goodwill impairment and $9.7 million in software asset impairment) in respect of the BCM segment, which is experiencing challenging market conditions, particularly in relation to the non-performing loan market in Ireland, Italy, and the UK.
Link Group continued to show resilience in response to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic across all global markets. During this period, we maintained a focus on safeguarding the well-being of employees, as well as ensuring the continuity of service for clients. Link Group was aided by several factors including, but not limited to:
- Continued investment in new technology and products to enable better servicing of our clients;
- A resilient earnings profile supporting operating cash flow, with approximately 85% of revenue being recurring in nature, however, some business units saw market volatility impacting Non-Recurring Revenue;
- Additional initiatives were implemented to reduce costs and support operating cash flow;
- A strong liquidity position supported by cash reserves and committed, undrawn debt facilities; and
- Debt serviceability and leverage remained comfortably within existing bank covenants.
1 At the IPO issue price of $17.13 per share, the market value of Link Group’s equity interest in PEXA is ~$1.3 billion at 30 June 2021.
2 Regulatory changes include ‘Protecting Your Super’ (PYS) legislation, ‘Putting Members’ Interests First’ (PMIF) legislation and ‘Early Release of Superannuation’ legislation (ERS).
Link Group’s revenue by geographic region (as illustrated below in Figure 1) reflects our position as a global business with revenue derived from outside Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) at 43% compared to 45% in FY2020.
Figure 1: External revenue by region
External Revenue by Region
FY2021 DOING WHAT WE SAID WE WOULD DO
- See through valuation of PEXA through an IPO
- Business unit realignment and simplified financial reporting, for improved accountability and transparency
- Link Market Services (South Africa) divestment completed
- Withdrew from the acquisition of Pepper European Servicing (PES)
- Secured all major RSS client renewals
- On market buyback of up to $150.0 million announced
- Delivered 10.0 cps total full year dividend (82% franked)
- $42 million of gross annualised savings delivered from Global Transformation to 30 June 2021
- Launched innovative technology solutions for clients in challenging environment (e.g. ERS response and virtual AGMs)
- Improved cash conversion to 114%
- Increased cross sell & broadening of services provided to clients (e.g. Hostplus Service Excellence Centre, virtual AGMs)
- Expansion into new markets – Fund Solutions in Luxemburg, the largest European investor fund centre and RSS in the growing UK pension market