As you all know, 2020 was a year characterised by a serious global pandemic and its major social and economic impact. But it was also a year of important transformations that will have an impact on our business fabric in the short and medium term and, therefore, on the growth model that will be increasingly supported by digitalisation and innovative and sustainable instruments.
Covid-19 has led us to face up to significant challenges. For this reason, I want to thank all the employees for the great effort and commitment they have shown, providing essential services to citizens in hospitals and care homes, and carrying out work on infrastructure, all of which was essential during the state of emergency.
In the context of the pandemic, the Company has set up a Crisis Committee to preserve, as a priority, the health of its employees, and has implemented a set of actions to limit its impact on the economic parameters of the Company. These include, after having reached an agreement with the legal representatives of the workers in Spain, the application of a furlough-type arrangement (Spanish ERTE). I would also like to make special mention of the voluntary reduction in the salary of the members of the Board of Directors, senior management, executives and managers.
At operating level, OHL’s sales were in line with those of 2019, reaching a total figure of EUR 2,831 million, showing a slight decrease of 4.4%, while EBITDA, which confirms the consistency of profitability at operating level since the last quarter of 2018, stood at EUR 67.5 million, 4.2% more than in 2019. Total new contracts, which in the year amounted to EUR 2,761 million, were 3.5% higher than in 2019, which allowed us to end the year with a total backlog of EUR 4,962 million, thanks to the sound performance of the US market.
Despite the constant and verifiable operational improvement, the Company’s net earnings were negative at EUR -151.2 million. This parameter was impacted, apart from the EUR 35 million of EBITDA affected by the pandemic, by the tourism projects of the Development division, and by the valuation adjustments of the debt of the Villar Mir Group and Pacadar with OHL.
Without any doubt, 2020 was a year of structural change for OHL. In May, my brother Mauricio and I entered into the Company’s shareholder structure through the acquisition of 16%, thereby becoming longterm investors.