In the first nine months of 2020 Italgas investments were 556.6 mn€, an increase of 12.4% compared to the first nine months of 2019, despite the difficulties caused by the current pandemic.
Investments in distribution, approximately 75% of total investments, were mainly dedicated to maintenance, extension and digitalization of the network, with about 702 km of new pipelines laid down (639 km in the same period of 2019), of which 283 km in Sardinia. Therefore, at the end of September 2020, more than 755 km of network were already in place on the island, out of a total planned of 1,100 km.
Through the metering investments made, Italgas reached 7.3 million smart meters installed at the end of September 2020. Despite the persisting difficulties in accessing private dwellings due to the pandemic, Italgas expects to complete the plan for the full replacement of the meter fleet in early 2021.
Cash Flow from Operations in the first nine months of 2020 amounted to 424.4 mn€, a 19.7% drop compared to the same period of 2019, which reflects an increase of 107 mn€ in working capital, resulting from Italgas' decision to support its supply chain in this sensitive economic phase. Considering the flow deriving from net investments of 562.6 mn€ and M&A deals for 10.7 mn€, net cash flow for the nine-month period is a negative 148.9 mn€. After the payment of 2019 dividends accounting for 206.0 mn€ and excluding the effect of IFRS 16 on leasing liabilities, down by 4.7 mn€, Net Financial Debt posts an increase of € 360.3 million, reaching € 4,770.9 million as at 30 September 2020.
Italgas' debt structure remains solid and efficient, with 86.5% of fixed rate debt and no need for debt refinancing before 2022. Italgas can also count on bank deposits of 541.8 mn€ and undrawn committed credit lines of 500 mn€ expiring in October 2021. The cost of debt, around 1%, is one of the lowest in the industry.