Informa has delivered another year of improved operating performance and further strategic progress. On behalf of the Board and our Shareholders, I would like to thank our Management Team and all our colleagues for the hard work in delivering the financial results set out in this Annual Report.
The statutory results for the 12 months to 31 December 2015 reflect the benefits of our strategy over the past two years, during which Informa moved from a period of Measured Change and launched the 2014–2017 Growth Acceleration Plan.
Your Board is confident that Informa will meet its ambitious goals, generating sustainable growth across all four Operating Divisions, which should in turn drive Shareholder returns. The Board will continue to oversee management’s performance closely, ensuring that the Group executes its strategy with financial discipline and with integrity.
Already, Informa is a leaner, more focused and growth-oriented company. We have expanded our presence in key markets, notably the US. We also strengthened our divisional management and enhanced our returns to Shareholders through improvements in revenue, earnings and dividend growth.
There is still a long way to go to reach the ambitious targets we have set ourselves. But the Group is on track and the Board remains supportive and united behind the current strategy.Your Board of Directors has endorsed management’s plans to internationalise the Group further, as we look to extend all our businesses into new markets that offer growth opportunities. It is encouraging to see that the US expansion programme in the Global Exhibitions Division is delivering ahead of plan, following the effective integration of Virgo and Hanley Wood Exhibitions. Acquisitions are likely to remain an important component of growth for Informa in the future. All capital commitments will continue to be made in a disciplined manner and will remain subject to rigorous strategic and financial hurdles.
On behalf of all Shareholders, your Board continues to monitor Informa’s performance in important areas such as compliance, risk management and remuneration. In 2015 we took steps to improve further the governance and controls in place across the Group, including further investment in our Risk and Compliance Team and systems.
The quality of Informa’s Shareholder returns reflects, ultimately, the quality of its people at every level. This includes the Board. As part of this commitment to quality, we appointed two first-rate Non- Executive Directors during the year. These were to broaden the Board’s international experience, particularly of US markets, and to prepare for John Davis stepping down from the Board in May 2016 after 10 years of service.
Stephen Davidson joined in September and brings extensive corporate and financial market experience in both Executive and Non-Executive roles, making him well suited to his position as Chairman of the Remuneration Committee. In the same month, we also appointed David Flaschen to the Board. David is an American citizen with a wealth of Senior Management experience in the US Media, Information Services and Technology sectors. The Group’s growing presence in these markets and stated ambition to build its position in North America make him an invaluable source of advice and insight to the Board and its Management Team.
//Already, Informa is a leaner, more focused and growth-oriented company. We have expanded our presence in key markets, notably the US.//
I would like to take the opportunity to thank John Davis for his long and distinguished contribution to Informa. He fulfilled important roles on the Audit and Remuneration Committees and put his extensive sector expertise to good use in the service of Shareholders. I am also grateful that he agreed to stay on the Board for an extra period whilst we prepared for the new Non-Executive joiners.
Full details of your Board’s composition and governance procedures can be found from page 65 onwards in this year's annual report.
Our confidence in the progress and performance of the Group led the Board to increase the total Dividend Per Share for 2015 by 4.1% to 20.1p. We have also increased our minimum commitment for the remainder of the Growth Acceleration Plan. Through 2016 and 2017 we will increase our annual dividend by a minimum of 4%, double the previous 2% commitment.
The Board is confident that continued progress in the Growth Acceleration Plan will include further steps to enhance our returns for Shareholders. This will make the Group an outstanding enterprise in which to work, with which to do business and in which to invest.
My thanks again go to the Management Team and all Informa colleagues, as well as to customers and business partners for their support in 2015. I look forward to 2016 as a year of further investment in the Group’s growth and continued value-creation for Shareholders.