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11 April, 2022 - 12:05 By Tony Quested

Johnson Matthey strategy a breath of fresh air

Johnson Matthey, the Cambridge sustainable technologies business, expects to report full year results in line with market expectations for the year to March 31.

New chief executive Liam Condon revealed good performances in the group’s Clean Air and Efficient Natural Resources operations and reported continued investment into hydrogen technologies to drive future growth. He added that a strategic review of operations and future direction was ongoing and will be unveiled along with the official results on May 26.

JM is well advanced in streamlining its portfolio; it has already exited  Advanced Glass Technologies; Battery Materials and Health operations will be shed soon.

Condon said: “I am excited to have joined Johnson Matthey and in my first month as chief executive I have been deeply impressed with the people and the quality of our technology.

“Looking at our full year results it is pleasing that despite significant market uncertainty these are expected to be in line with current market expectations, with good performances in our core businesses giving a solid base from which to build further.

“Together with my team, we are reviewing our strategy and focused on providing a clear pathway to demonstrate how the group will create value from the many exciting opportunities we face as the world transitions to net zero.”

Condon said the robust performance in 2021/22 had been achieved in a challenging environment.

Growth was driven by improved performance in Clean Air, where JM saw increased activity in autos. Efficient Natural Resources benefited from higher average precious metal prices. 

JM maintained a strong balance sheet. Its net debt at the year end is expected to be c.£0.9 billion; a £200 million share buyback is progressing well and as at April 6 stood at £167m.

In March the company refinanced to extend the maturities of its debt. It signed €315m of Private Placement Notes (PP), the company’s first sustainability-linked PP and also raised a further £400 million of sustainable financing through the UK’s Export Finance’s Export Development Guarantee scheme. 

Both are linked to a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. JM extended its £1bn sustainability-linked revolving credit facility by another year to March 2027. 

As announced last month, JM discontinued with immediate effect all new commercial activities in Russia and Belarus in light of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. 

Its operations in Russia include one small Clean Air manufacturing plant, and a small Catalyst Technologies office. In terms of pgm (platinum group metal) supply, JM is the world’s leading secondary recycler of pgms and is well diversified in its supply with little exposure to Russia. 

Overall for the group around one per cent of 2021/22 sales related to Russia, with a slightly higher proportion of operating profit given the mix effect in Catalyst Technologies.

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