In 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic continued to have a negative impact on Swedish society and the business environment. The conditions for the Sergel Group to conduct its operations were affected as Nordic companies became more cautious in their credit granting, particularly noticeable in Finland. This development resulted in reduced business volumes for Sergel and, consequently, a decline in revenue and financial performance. None of the companies within the Group received any government support.
While the pandemic had a restraining effect on traditional debt collection services, the business area Connect partially offset this by experiencing strong growth (56%) in Sweden. Increased remote work and other restrictions accelerated digital development in society, increasing the demand for Sergel's digital messaging services (Connect) among businesses, government agencies, and individuals.Furthermore, good cost control and more efficient operations in different countries had a compensatory effect on Legres' financial development.
However, the changed business conditions due to the pandemic created uncertainty about whether the company would be able to meet certain maintenance test conditions under the bond agreement in the coming years. Therefore, the company conducted a renegotiation with bondholders to modify the terms of the secured bond. The renegotiation concluded on January 28, 2021, with new bond conditions.
During the year, additional investments were made in IT systems, and the new core/Debt Collection system was implemented in Finland, significantly improving the conditions for business development with both customers and end-users. Other improvement measures included shorter wait times in customer service, identification via BankID, and the development of a customer web portal with clearer case management and a debtor web portal with increased self-service capabilities.
During the year, the Group intensified its sustainability efforts by becoming the first debt collection company to sign the EU initiative "Science Based Targets." This means that the Sergel Group aims to become carbon-neutral by 2030. Towards the end of the year, a strategy and vision work was also initiated to clarify the Sergel Group's future direction and areas of development.
In June 2021, the subsidiary Sergel Portfolios sold its entire portfolio of debt portfolios. As part of this transaction, associated bank loans were also settled.
The development of Real Estate has had a limited impact from the Covid-19 pandemic. During the year, major renovations and the completion of a new rehabilitation clinic were carried out in the property in Torsvik. Additionally, Horns Strand AB has sold several plots of land, resulting in revenues of SEK 16.6 million (SEK 10.6 million).
Fastighetsaktiebolaget Grönlandet Södra 13 replaced its bond, which matured at the end of June 2021, with a bank loan, obtaining better terms. The total loan amount was SEK 560 million, and at the end of the year, the loan stood at SEK 554.4 million.
All properties either maintained or increased their market value during the year. The increase was largely due to extended agreements with improved terms.
The Group's properties are predominantly fully leased.
The revenues in this segment have increased by SEK 14 million this year, primarily due to the growth in Nanoq's turnover, as well as the initiation of operations by both Helix Ice AB and Shoutly AB in 2021.
Shoutly has further developed its business and revenue model, focusing on the administration of self-employed individuals and consultants, which has allowed the product to be successfully launched in the market. In 2021, Shoutly also introduced the option for self-employed individuals to receive their salary payments through Swish, further enhancing the speed of the service.
Helix Ice commenced its operations during the year and is engaged in acquiring and managing expired debt portfolios. In its first year, Helix Ice has already contributed to a positive result and cash flow for the Group.
Rental income for the year amounted to SEK 89.0 million (SEK 73.1 million). Additionally, the property portfolio was revalued upward by SEK 170.0 million (SEK 49.5 million), positively impacting the results. The fair value of the properties as of December 31st is SEK 2,124.9 million (SEK 1,947.3 million). However, revenues from Credit Management decreased from SEK 740.0 million to SEK 710.5 million. Revenues from other operations increased during the year and now amount to SEK 24.7 million (SEK 10.7 million), primarily due to increased turnover and the initiation of new operations during the year.
The Group's operating profit before property value changes amounted to SEK 92.5 million compared to SEK 127.0 million in 2020. The unrealized property value changes for the year amounted to SEK 170 million (SEK 49.5 million). The net profit for the year, including value changes, was SEK 143.8 million (SEK 60.7 million).