Key Risks Faced by the Business Areas
Founded in 1954, Teleste is a technology and services company consisting of two business areas: Video and Broadband Solutions and Network Services. Europe is the main market and business area, but the company aims to expand its business particularly in North America. Teleste's customers include cable operators, public transport operators, rolling stock manufacturers and specified organisations in the public sector.
In Video and Broadband Solutions, customer-specific and integrated deliveries of solutions create favourable conditions for growth. On the other hand, the allocation of resources to the deliveries and the technical implementation are demanding tasks, which is why there are also risks involved. Our operator customers' network investments vary according to the development of technology, customers' need to upgrade and their financial structure. End-to-end deliveries of video security and information solution systems may be large in size, setting high demands for the project quotation calculation and management and, consequently, involving risks. Increased competition created by the new service providers may undermine the cable operators' ability to invest. Correct technological choices, product development and their timing are vital to our success. Various technologies are used in our products and solutions, and the intellectual property rights associated with the application of these technologies can be interpreted in different ways by different parties. Such difficulties of interpretation may lead to costly investigations or court proceedings. Customers have very demanding requirements for the performance of products, their durability in challenging conditions and their compatibility with other components of integrated systems. Regardless of careful planning and quality assurance, complex products may fail in the customer's network and lead to expensive repair obligations. The consequences of natural phenomena or accidents, such as fire, may reduce the availability of components in the order-delivery chain of the electronics industry or suspend our own manufacturing operations. Customs levies imposed by major powers in the world economy and other trade war measures may have a negative effect on component supply chains and, in particular, the profitability of products exported to the United States. Many competitors in the business area come from the USA, which is why the exchange rate of the euro against the US dollar has an effect on our competitiveness. In particular, the development of the exchange rates of the US dollar and the Chinese renminbi against the euro influences our product costs. The company hedges against short-term currency exposure by means of forward exchange contracts. The UK leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement in place could make deliveries to English customers more difficult. Teleste is preparing for this contingency by storing products locally.
Net sales of Network Services come mainly from a small number of large European customers. Therefore, a significant change in the demand for our services by any one of them is reflected in the actual deliveries and profitability. The improvement of customer satisfaction and productivity requires efficient service process management, as well as innovative process, product and logistics solutions to ensure the quality and cost-efficiency of services. The smooth functioning of cable networks requires efficient technical management of the networks and suitable equipment solutions in accordance with contractual obligations. This, in turn, requires continuous development of the skills and knowledge of our personnel and subcontractors. In addition, the sufficiency and usage rates of our personnel and subcontractor network influence the company's delivery capacity and profitability. Subcontractors' costs may increase faster than it is possible for Teleste to increase the prices of its services to its own customers. In larger projects with overall responsibility, tender calculation and project management are complex tasks that involve risks. Severe weather conditions may affect our ability to deliver services.
Teleste's strategy involves risks and uncertainties: new business opportunities may fail to be identified or successfully used. The business areas must take into account market movements, such as consolidations among our customers and competitors. Periods of technological transformation, such as operators migrating to distributed access architecture, may significantly change the competitive positions of the current suppliers and attract new competitors to the market. Intensified competition may decrease the prices of products and solutions faster than we are able to reduce our products' manufacturing and delivery costs.
Various information systems are critical to the development, manufacture and supply of products to our customers. The maintenance of information systems and deployment of new systems involve risks that may affect our ability to deliver products and services. Information systems are also exposed to external threats and we strive to protect ourselves from these threats through technical solutions and by increasing the security competence of our personnel. Teleste Group may also be targeted by illegal activities and fraud attempts that could have a significant effect on the financial result. The Group strives to minimise these risks by continuing to develop good governance practices and increasing the security competence of its personnel. Recruiting and maintaining skilled personnel requires encouragement, development and recruitment efforts, which can fail.
The Board of Directors annually reviews essential business risks and their management. Risk management constitutes an integral part of the strategic and operational activities of the business areas. Risks are reported to the Audit Committee on a regular basis.
On 23 December 2016, a competitor of Teleste filed two complaints against Teleste Limited, demanding damages from the company for the infringement of two patents. Teleste has denied the patent infringements. On 29 January 2019, the court issued its decision on one of the complaints. The decision was favourable for Teleste. The other litigation is still pending. According to the assessment of Teleste's management, the results of these litigations are not expected to have a material effect on Teleste's financial position.