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Note 20 Contingent assets and liabilities

Rights and obligations arising from operating leases

Please refer to note [19] to the consolidated financial statements for details of rights and obligations arising from operating leases.

Capital expenditure commitments

The outstanding capital expenditure commitments and other purchasing commitments at the end of the year were as follows:

Capital expenditure and other purchasing commitments

€ million

2016

2015

Capital expenditure commitments regarding property, plant and equipment

124

121

Other purchasing commitments

255

249

   

Total as at 31 December

379

370

Contingent liabilities

On and immediately after the balance sheet date, a number of claims were made against Alliander. Alliander was also involved in a number of lawsuits at the balance sheet date, connected with normal business operations. These claims/lawsuits could have a material impact on Alliander’s results, should the outcome not go in Alliander’s favour. Provisions have been recognised as necessary. A number of important considerations are disclosed below.

In January 2014, the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb) in a dispute with another network operator ruled on the definition of an electricity connection. It was concluded that certain links were no connections within the meaning of the Electricity Act 1998 and the network operator to these parties could not provide services. As of January 1, 2014 the Electricity Act 1998 has changed and these links are still under the legal definition of a connection. The Tribunal's judgment may have consequences for the network operators, including Liander. A number of claims were received by Alliander in 2016. Currently, they are not expected to result in any liabilities for Alliander.

Liander is involved in legal disputes with a number of municipal authorities relating to sufferance tax. Liander could potentially be reclaiming an amount of €18 million. However, given the uncertainties, these receivables have not been recognised in the balance sheet as at 31 December 2016.

Referring to the Electricity Act 1998 and the Gas Act, the Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) has raised questions concerning a number of new activities carried on by Alliander. These questions concern possible unfair advantages in one specific situation of alleged energy supply, along with other matters. As regards the former situation, the activities concerned were accordingly transferred to an energy supplier at the end of 2015. The ACM has concluded that the activities did indeed fall within the scope of the law with respect to the specific situation in question. In 2016, the regulator ACM issued a further ruling on an enforcement request regarding some of Alliander’s new activities. The ACM concluded that these activities meet the legal frameworks and contribute to the management of energy networks.

Consequently they contribute to the core duty of an increasingly sustainable energy supply with a reliable, affordable and accessible network. The parties that brought the enforcement request have appealed the ACM’s 2016 rulings on the matter.

Bank guarantees amounting to €1 million had been issued on Alliander's behalf as at year-end 2016 (2015: €0.6 million).

With respect to the Spaklerweg disposal, it has been agreed that the city authorities will have an option expiring on 30 June 2020 to acquire part of the site and the buildings for the sum of €13 million (to be paid in instalments of €6 million in 2025 and €7 million in 2028). If the option is exercised, conveyance of the property will take place in 2025 and Alliander will continue to have the use of the site until that date. The exercise of the option by the City of Amsterdam at some future date is not expected to affect profit or loss.

Alliander has taken out liability insurance in the form of a Directors and Officers policy covering the members of the Supervisory Board, the members of the Management Board, the operating company managers and other directors within the Alliander group. In addition to the cover provided by this liability insurance, the members of the Supervisory Board are also legally indemnified. As far as possible, the members of the Supervisory Board are also indemnified by Alliander subject to specific conditions and with strict limitations in respect of costs connected with legal proceedings brought under civil, penal or administrative law in which they could become involved by virtue of their membership of the Supervisory Board.

Alliander, together with its Dutch subsidiaries, forms a tax group for both corporate income tax and value added tax (VAT). Consequently, every legal entity forming part of the tax group bears joint and several liability for the tax liabilities of the legal entities included in the tax group. Alliander has also given a declaration of indemnity to its network operator under which its liability in this respect is restricted to the amount for which it itself would be liable if a tax group did not exist.

Convertible subordinated loans were contracted with the shareholders of Alliander in the past and relate to guarantees given on the sale of non-strategic interests. On expiry of these guarantees, the loans were released to income and shares in Alliander were issued in 2006. Some of the guarantees are not time-limited, however. A number of guarantees are, however, for an indefinite period; in the event that there are any subsequent claims on guarantees in the future, the shareholders concerned have a duty to surrender all or part of their shares.

In 2006, following the declaration of the nullity of a claim, a guarantee provision for the sale of associates was released to income and additional shares in Alliander were issued in 2007. The guarantees which have been given are for an indefinite period. It is therefore still possible for claims to be made on these guarantees in the future. Alliander can again also require the shareholders to surrender some or all of their shares.

The agreement between Alliander and Enexis on the exchange of regional energy distribution networks contains a number of indemnifying clauses covering such things as sufferance tax and consumer unit/meter boxes.

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