Sonae has had a good start to the year, despite the adverse calendar effect of a later Easter period. Consolidated turnover in the first quarter increased by 8.9% y.o.y. reaching €1,461 M, with positive contributions from almost all businesses, particularly from Sonae MC and from Sonae Sierra, which is now fully consolidated into Sonae’s accounts.
Regarding profitability, underlying EBITDA grew 15.6% y.o.y. to €105 M, driven by a solid performance of Sonae MC, and EBITDA reached €136.1 M, +€34 M when compared to 1Q18, fuelled by both equity method results (namely Sonae Sierra and ISRG), and the capital gain from the sale of Saphety by Sonae IM, which continues to create value by actively managing its portfolio.
In terms of portfolio management, this quarter marked the acquisition by Sonae MC of a 60% stake in Arenal, which we believe will significantly reinforce Sonae MC’s position in the Health & Wellness segment, one of our growth avenues.
Despite a significant increase in our total investment level (+64% y.o.y.), mainly driven by the Arenal acquisition, our capital structure remains strong. Our gearing level continued to decrease y.o.y. and is now down to 0.5x, and our main businesses continue to show conservative balance sheets. Our debt now has a longer maturity profile and low funding costs, thus maintaining conditions to both support the growth strategies of our businesses and our shareholder remuneration policy.
In my first CEO message, I would like to thank Paulo and Ângelo for all their support in the transition phase and for having the benefit of their wisdom as Chairman and Non-Executive Board member.
We are today over 53 thousand people at Sonae, committed to the development of a long-living company which creates economic and social value. We will only be able to achieve this goal by taking great care of all our stakeholders to whom we remain committed