More than three-quarters of the investments were concentrated in distribution, with the aim of maintaining the high quality of the network and continuing its extension. During the first three months of 2020 c.310 km of new pipes have been laid down. In more detail, during Q1 in Sardinia Italgas laid down approximately 165 km of new networks. With a total of more than 630 km of “smart pipes” built to date.
During this quarter, even the meter replacement program continued, despite in March the lockdown to avoid the Covid-19 spread affected the pace of replacement. Metering investments reached 30.1 million euro. In the first quarter of 2020, the company installed 274.5 thousand new meters, of which 218.3 thousand to replace traditional meters and 56.2 thousand to restore digital meters with anomalies. The smart meter installation plan is expected to be concluded in 2020.
Net investments for the first quarter of 2020 have been largely funded by Cash Flow from Operations, which stood at 174.2 million euro, with a negative Free Cash Flow before M&A activities of 22.6 million euro.
Net Financial Debt as of 31 March 2020 amounts to 4,450.5 million euro, with an increase of 39.9 million euro compared to 4,410.6 million euro at 2019 year-end, excluding the effects ex IFRS 16 (1.6 million euro).
At the end of March 2020, Italgas therefore continues to boast a solid and efficient debt structure, with an 88% weight of fixed-rate debt and no significant refinancing need before 2020. The cost of debt is at a very low level, around 1.1%. Moreover, Italgas has bank deposits of around 208 million euro and can rely on undrawn committed credit facilities of 500 million euro, maturing in October 2021.