Principles of financial risk management
The Executive Board has put in place an effective set of guidelines to manage and hence largely limit or hedge financial risks throughout the group. The objectives with regard to protecting assets, eliminating gaps in security, and improving efficiency in identifying and analyzing risks are clearly defined, as are the relevant organizational structures, powers, and responsibilities. The guidelines are based on the principles of system security, the separation of functions, transparency, and immediate documentation.

Because it operates worldwide, GEA Group is exposed to currency, interest rate, commodity price, credit, and liquidity risk in the course of its ordinary activities. Financial risk management aims to reduce this risk through the appropriate use of derivative and non-derivative hedging instruments. The group’s financial risks are quantified in section 3 of the notes to the consolidated financial statements.

Based on a gross assessment, the financial risks described below are considered in principle to be both considerable and probable for GEA. These risks are therefore rated as high overall.

Currency risk
Because GEA Group operates internationally, its cash flows are denominated not only in euros, but also in a number of other currencies, particularly U.S. dollars. Hedging the resulting currency risk is a key element of risk management. The uniform group guidelines for central currency management used within GEA Group require all group companies to hedge foreign currency items as they arise in order to fix prices on the basis of hedging rates. Currency risks are hedged for recognized hedged items, unrecognized firm commitments, and highly probable forecast transactions. The hedging periods are determined by the maturity of the hedged items and are usually up to 12 months, but in exceptional cases may exceed that period significantly. Nevertheless, changes in exchange rates may affect sales opportunities outside the eurozone. Affiliated group companies based in the eurozone are obliged to tender to GEA Group’s central finance unit all outstanding exposures relating to transactions in goods and services in major transaction currencies. Most of these exposures are passed on directly to banks at matching maturities, depending on the hedging objective of the derivatives and the related accounting treatment; they may also be hedged as part of a portfolio. The hedging of financial transactions and transactions conducted by subsidiaries outside the eurozone is also closely coordinated with the central finance unit.

Interest rate risk
Because GEA Group operates worldwide, liquidity is raised and invested in the international money and capital markets in different currencies (but mainly in euros) and at different maturities. The resulting financial liabilities and investments are exposed to interest rate risk, which must be assessed and managed by central interest rate management. Derivative financial instruments may be used on a case-by-case basis to hedge interest rate risk and reduce the interest rate volatility and financing costs of the hedged items. Only the central finance unit is permitted to enter into such interest rate hedges.

Credit risk
Financial instruments are exposed to credit risk in that the other party to the contract may fail to fulfil its obligations. The counterparty limit system used by GEA Group’s central finance unit aims to continuously assess and manage counterparty default risk. A maximum risk limit has been defined for each counterparty, which in most cases is derived from the ratings from recognized credit rating agencies and credit default swaps (CDSs). Appropriate action is taken if the individual limit is exceeded. The financial standing of potential customers is ascertained before orders are accepted using an internal risk board procedure. Active receivables management, including non-recourse factoring, non-recourse financing, and credit insurance, is also performed. In the case of export transactions, confirmed and unconfirmed letters of credit are used alongside sureties, guarantees, and cover notes, including from export credit agencies such as Euler Hermes. In addition to local monitoring by the subsidiary in question, GEA Group oversees the main credit risks at group management level so that any accumulation of risk can be better managed. Since trade receivables are usually due from a large number of customers in different sectors and regions, there is no concentration of risk. Valuation allowances take account of specific credit risks. So as to reduce the credit risk involved, derivative financial instruments are only entered into with reputable financial institutions whose creditworthiness has been classified as reliable under the counterparty limit system described above; this is also continuously monitored. The maximum exposure for the financial assets is limited to their carrying amount.

Liquidity risk
GEA Group is exposed to liquidity risk in that it may be unable to meet payment obligations because it has insufficient cash funds at its disposal. The central finance unit is responsible for managing this risk. Cash funds are arranged and credit lines managed on the basis of a multi-year financial plan and a rolling month-by-month cash forecast. The funds are then made available to the companies by group management. Cash pools have been established in a growing number of countries in order to optimize the use of cash funds and borrowing within GEA Group. To mitigate liquidity risk, GEA Group will continue to use various financing instruments in the future so as to diversify its sources of funding and stagger maturities. The impact of potential risk scenarios on changes in liquidity is simulated on a quarterly basis. All internal risk management information and internal and external information on potential market and other external risks is taken into account. On the basis of this, the Executive Board and Supervisory Board have agreed strict rules regarding the level of cash and long-term credit lines to be held to cover potential liquidity risk.

Tax Risks
The applicable national tax legislation may affect the use of loss carry-forwards and thus the recoverability of the deferred taxes recognized in the consolidated financial statements and current taxation. Furthermore, future changes to the ownership structure could significantly reduce or even render impossible the use of German loss carry-forwards (section 8c of the Körperschaftsteuergesetz (KStG – German Corporate Income Tax Act)). The ability to use U.S. loss carry-forwards could also be restricted in the case of certain changes to the ownership structure of GEA Group Aktiengesellschaft under IRC section 382 (limitation on net operating loss carry-forwards following an ownership change). Moreover, in Germany and abroad, there is considerable uncertainty regarding future changes to, and the application of, tax legislation as a result of tighter public sector finances, the resulting pressure for reform, and tangibly greater scrutiny by the tax authorities. The tax risks presented could have a material effect on GEA’s financial position and results of operations. The occurrence of material negative effects is considered to be relatively unlikely.

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