Combined Management Report of MAX Automation SE for the Financial Year 2020

Business Model
MAX Automation SE, headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany, is the holding company of a Group of small and medium-sized companies that operates on a global level. The Group companies provide their customers with innovative solutions and complex systems for the purpose of enabling efficient production and automation. As full-range suppliers of machinery, installations and integrated automation solutions, the companies develop solutions in close cooperation with customers in Germany and beyond. In addition, they offer complementary services such as consulting (including analysis, testing and feasibility studies) and production support, along with servicing, repair and software development. The MAX Group companies operate in a variety of different sales markets, sectors and business areas, ensuring a high degree of diversification within the Group. Some of the companies serve niche markets and strive to achieve a leading position in terms of the product or quality.
The MAX Group companies operate through an international network of sales offices and service locations in Europe, North America, South America and Asia. The development and production sites are primarily located in Germany with others located in the United States, Poland and Italy. As of the reporting date, the MAX Group consisted of MAX Automation SE and its 11 shareholdings and the subsidiaries of these shareholdings in Germany and abroad.

Governance structure

With the conversion into a "European Company" (Societas Europaea, SE) in the 2017 fiscal year, MAX Automation SE opted for a monistic management system. The monistic management system is characterized by the fact that the management of the SE is incumbent on a single management body, the Supervisory Board. The Supervisory Board directs the company, defines the guidelines of its activities and supervises their implementation. The Managing Directors conduct the business of the company, represent the company in legal matters and in direct relations with other parties, and are bound by the instructions of the Supervisory Board. The operational management of the MAX Group subsidiaries is incumbent upon the General Managers of these subsidiaries.

Operating Segments

Subsidiaries of the MAX Group are allocated to four operating segments, which corresponded to the reportable segments in line with IFRS requirements in the 2020 fiscal year.
In the Process Technologies segment, the focus of bdtronic GmbH and its subsidiaries is on the development and production of machinery and installations with integrated software solutions for high-precision production processes such as dispensing and impregnation, especially for customers in e-mobility, the electronics industry and medical engineering.
In the Environmental Technologies segment, Vecoplan AG and its subsidiaries develop and install machinery and installations for the sustainable use of primary and secondary raw materials and biomass, in particular for the recycling, energy and raw materials industries.
The Evolving Technologies segment brings together five different companies offering optoelectronic solutions, plant and machinery for use in medical engineering and packaging systems, as well as robotic production systems and automation solutions.
The three segments - Process Technologies, Environmental Technologies and Evolving Technologies - represent the core business areas of MAX Automation.
The Non-Core Business segment comprises companies that are no longer part of MAX Automation’s core business. This primarily includes ELWEMA Automotive GmbH, which develops manufacturing solutions for cleaning, testing and assembly technology, in particular for engines, steering systems and transmissions. The other companies in the segment have ceased operations and are only completing existing customer projects (IWM Automation Bodensee GmbH, IWM Automation GmbH). IMW Automation Poland will cease operations in the course of 2021.
Strategic Positioning
The MAX Group’s focus is on growth industries with low dependence on economic cycles and fluctuations. The goal of MAX Automation is to create added value for shareholders and stakeholders and to achieve above-average growth in sales, earnings and cash flow.
Long-term trends drive the growth of MAX Automation's activities, among them increased health awareness and rising demand for medical technology due to demographic shifts. Other trends include the increase in automation, the trend towards electrification in the automotive sector, growing needs and desires for sustainability, the digital transformation in industrial production with the associated networking of plants and machinery, and rapidly growth in industrial sectors such as micro-automation and robotics. The ability to quickly pick up on trends and to subsequently identify innovative solutions and further develop technologies are therefore of key strategic importance for the long-term business success of the MAX Group.
MAX Automation SE is currently working on further developing its group strategy and on establishing a suitable governance structure that meets changing operational requirements while continuing to satisfy the highest standards. The new strategy is expected to be rolled out over the course of 2021.
Controlling System
Planning and management for the MAX Group is conducted on the level of the individual Group companies and through MAX Automation SE directly. The subsidiaries define their strategy for the coming fiscal years and plan their individual business performance targets based on the long-term focus of the MAX Group. This planning process culminates in a investment plan and a cost budget with targets relating to sales and revenue performance for the purpose of budget and medium-term planning. The results of the annual planning discussions between the MAX Management Board and the General Managers of the Group companies lead to a Group plan that is discussed and approved by the Supervisory Board.
Monthly review meetings between the Group companies and the MAX Automation SE as the holding company provide an ongoing insight into the overall economic situation of the MAX Group. The monthly reports are used to identify deviations from Group company planning at an early stage and to discuss options for action.

Control Variables

To manage and evaluate its operating business, the MAX Group uses financial performance indicators that are suitable for companies in the machinery and plant engineering sector. These indicators are recorded on the level of the Group companies individually and are consolidated on the level of MAX Automation SE. The MAX Group is primarily managed on the basis of the key performance indicators "Sales" and "EBITDA" respectively the "EBITDA margin". In addition, ratios are used to measure the order situation, such as order intake and order backlog, as well as for the development of working capital.
The objective is to identify trends at an early stage by analyzing these key control variables and thus to ensure and enhance the long-term earnings performance of the MAX Group. Non-financial performance indicators are not used for internal control of the Group.
In addition, the covenant agreements regarding the syndicated loan agreement are included in the management of the MAX Group. The covenants include limits for absolute equity and absolute EBITDA for the last 12 months of the MAX Group. The control is carried out by setting and reviewing target corridors.
In 2020, the Group recorded the following changes in key performance indicators:




in mEUR

in mEUR

in %

Order Intake




Order Backlog1)




Working Capital












EBITDA-Margin (in % of Sales)



1 as of December 31

Research and Development

As a strategic management company, MAX Automation SE does not conduct its own research and development activities (R&D), but it does consider such activities to be essential to the future success of the Group companies in their respective markets. The market environment in which the companies operate is subject to rapid changes in technology and intense competition. Customers require tailored technical solutions based on the latest processes and technologies. Political demands and government regulations, especially of an environmental nature, are increasingly becoming growth drivers of development processes.

The MAX companies are responsible for ensuring that their products and solutions satisfy the latest technological standards and are strategically well-positioned in their markets. R&D is conducted on a decentralized basis in the companies, such as in the form of specialized departments or technology centers. As small & medium-sized enterprises, the MAX companies organize their R&D activities largely within the framework of specific customer projects, focusing on the market situation and the needs of their customers. However, the MAX companies do not conduct research for purely scientific purposes. In order to live up to its claim of technological and quality leadership, the subsidiaries continuously expand their technological skill sets. Accordingly, some of the products in their portfolios are quite recent and innovative.

Information on development costs can be found in the notes to the consolidated financial statements under other disclosures in the section on research and development.

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