In the last months, significant events that have been developing in the last few years for the Group have now come to fruition. Dealing with these in order, in 2016 SENER took the decision to sell its holding in ITP (Industria de Turbopropulsores) to Rolls-Royce. An operation which culminated in December 2017 and which has given an additional boost to the already healthy accounts of the company, after turning round the atypical results of 2015 in 2016 and 2017. At the end of the previous financial year, and in accordance with SENER’s Corporate Governance principles, Jorge Sendagorta left the post of Group CEO, having reached 65 years of age. However, he did not leave the post of President which, up to that point, he had been combining with the post of CEO for more than two decades. This was the start of a period of transition in the management team, with Jorge Unda taking over as the current CEO. In addition to purely business variables, there are others of a family nature. During this period, new members of the third Sendagorta generation have joined the shareholders, with the corresponding and required renewal of the formal relationship between the company and the family. All of this has led SENER towards a call to reinvent itself based on an exciting project for the entire Group that will reassert its former drive to develop the more industrial side of the group, with engineering at the core as always.
Jorge Unda, current CEO of SENER
Following an initial career in the worlds of academia and technical publications, Jorge Unda joined SENER in 1986, initially as a project engineer, gradually forging a brilliant career until he became the Managing Director of SENER in 1997, today its CEO. During these 30 years, the professional teams of SENER have carried out, as he likes to say, exciting projects which have transformed the company into a better SENER. And all this in spite of the recession, such as the one in 2011 that drove the internationalization of SENER, given the fall of investments in Spain. Although some steps had already been taken to compete beyond the domestic market, it was a difficult period during which SENER went from having 70% of its revenues in Spain to the current figure of 5% in less than ten years, and one in which bigger and increasing technological responsibilities were taken on. Notably after 2011-2012, there were very difficult financial years for the engineering sector, both in Spain and in the rest of the world, as a consequence of the economic crisis of 2008. It was also the period during which the first global plants, which involved major technological progress both here and beyond, were successfully taken on. This is the case with Gemasolar, whose excellent results catch the eye, operated and maintained by Torresol Energy, a SENER group company.
TRYO, a new SENER Group company
Shortly after the appointment of Unda, the acquisition of TRYO Aerospace & Electronics was confirmed. This is an aerospace group made up of the companies TRYO Aerospace Flight Segment and RYMSA RF, which in turn has a 99.8% holding in the subsidiary Radiación y Microondas México, SA de CV and a 20% holding in the North American company Mega Industries LLC. With TRYO, SENER has a major complementarity in differentiated activities, markets and technologies. In fact, over the years, both groups have been present in important missions such as BepiColombo and Solar Orbiter. The sum of SENER and TRYO increases our presence and our role in the value chain of the entire onboard communications system. Consequently, the immediate decisions Jorge Unda will have to make in his new role as CEO include: the restructuring of the Group in order to incorporate the ambitious industrial project which both TRYO and SENER’s own Aerospace business has formed part of until now. Secondly, to put a highly competent professional in charge of this new industrial-aerospace area of the Group, José Julián Echevarría, appointed as its Managing Director, with the goals to multiply capacity within the sector and make SENER a national champion in aerospace systems. This will rekindle the Group’s unyielding industrial ambition. Thirdly, to select the manager of the SENER area that houses the three remaining businesses – Energy (Renewables, Power, Oil & Gas), Infrastructure and Transport, and Marine. The person chosen is Jorge Sendagorta Cudós, until now Country Manager of SENER in Mexico. Following a long professional career of proven prestige both inside SENER and outside it, Sendagorta Cudós is returning to Spain to lead the Engineering and Construction area of SENER as its Managing Director.
With these assets, the group is consolidating itself in technological, engineering and production capacity, and display muscle with a clear intention towards growth. Without doubt, one of the characteristics of the Aerospace sector is the growing importance of more industrial activity, with contracts which go from the design to the production of series of products that are increasingly capable of capturing more value from engineering activity. This is why, several years ago, SENER decided to create ITP, a totally industrial project it remained in until its role as a technology partner of Rolls-Royce transformed into one of a more financial nature. So, in 2016, the company decided it was time to cease its participation in ITP, despite the entrepreneurial and emotional void this implied. With regard to Space and Defense, SENER has been making progress for several years in the industrial sphere. With the acquisition of TRYO, the aim was to strengthen, complement and supplement SENER, as well as equip it with a consolidated range of products and industrial equipment in the commercial market, particularly in Space. This is not the same case as ITP, although the dream of being important in Aeronautics, Space and Defense goes back to the early years of SENER’s history, and has been a constant ambition.
The third generation of shareholders
In 2017, considerations have not only focused on the changes in the new management structure of the Group, but also how to regulate the incorporation of the third family generation within the company shareholding. The evolution of said shareholding, with an increase in the number of shareholders of various ages, was a new factor that required a review of the Family Protocol agreed and signed in 2004. This has resulted in a new document called the Family Incorporation, which establishes mechanisms inherent to a family business, in order to regulate the relationship of the family with SENER, giving it fresh impetus and a new reality. This new document stresses the shareholder, rather than the family, status of its members, even though the company remains a family business. It sets out a clearer, more institutionalized link between the family and the company.
The great affection that the family feels towards SENER and the excitement felt by the new generation towards the company’s current project are very significant aspects. In spite of the fact that, at the end of 2017, the shareholders were offered the opportunity to sell their shares, the result was that only 13% sold some of their shares. This majority support of 87% of the family, including the new generation, confirms an unequivocal commitment to the future of SENER in the coming decades. A shared history of more than 62 years undoubtedly forms a very close bond.
The understanding between shareholders and the management team has always been excellent and will continue to be so. The desire to improve this project every day is shared by the shareholders, the management team and the SENER people. Looking back, we can see how far we have all traveled. The decisions taken, as part of a very demanding 2017-2019 Strategic Plan, were already aiming high; under this guide, SENER has started to reinvent itself and is continuing with renewed vigor in its efforts towards technological differentiation and increased size and international presence. At SENER, we will reinvent ourselves again and again.