EDP receives Significant Investor Award at British trade awards
British Ambassador Chris Sainty (centre) and Andrew Mitchell (left), UK’s Trade Commissioner for Europe, presenting António Mexia, CEO of EDP, with the ‘Significant Investor Award’

EDP receives Significant Investor Award at British trade awards

The CEO of Portugal’s electricity giant EDP (Energias de Portugal), António Mexia, took home the Significant Investor Award at Tuesday’s 11th UK Department for International Trade (DIT) Business Awards.

The awards to 22 organisations, organised by the DIT team at the British Embassy in Portugal, distinguish British companies that have been successful in Portugal or have done well in a project in partnership with a Portuguese venture in a third country, as well as Portuguese companies that have experienced success in the UK market.

The initiative’s goal is also to publicly recognise the efforts of British and Portuguese companies which have invested in each other’s countries over the past year.

On hand to give out the awards alongside the British Ambassador Chris Sainty was the UK’s Trade Commissioner for Europe, Andrew Mitchell, who was appointed by the British government to head trade, investment and trade policies between the United Kingdom and Europe and who supervises 32 teams in 43 European countries that make up the international network of the DIT.

Among the Portuguese companies that were singled out at the awards in the ‘International Expansion’ category were A4F, Blueworks, Constructel, Infraspeak and TrueWind. In the ‘Investment Growth’ category, the S24 Group won an award.

In this edition, 14 British companies operating in Portugal were distinguished. These companies form part of a wider group of organisations supported by the DIT in Lisbon which, between them, were responsible for a turnover of around €192.4 million in transactions of goods and services in a wide range of sectors.

The companies were AstraZeneca, Babcock International Group, Bonhams, Coates Global, Ebury, EY, Leonardo Helicopters, Metaswitch, Paysafe Group and Seven Technologies Group in the category ‘Export Growth’.

In the ‘Overseas Direct Investment’ category were companies Blip (Paddy Power Betfair Group), Round Hill Capital, Savannah Resources and Whitestar.

A new category was created for this year’s edition. The Institutional Partner Award, which recognises the cooperation from a strategic partner in promoting bilateral relations between Portugal and the United Kingdom. This category distinguished idD Portugal – National Defence Industries Platform.

When the first edition was held in 2008, seven Portuguese companies were distinguished for their direct investment in the British market. Eleven years on, there are around 100 Portuguese companies either based or having an office in the United Kingdom that count on the support given them by the DIT investment team in Lisbon, with new investment projects in the development phase.

Last year, the team helped 13 projects that resulted in the establishment of Portuguese companies in the UK and/or the expansion of their projects in this market, which was the equivalent of a total investment plan of around €1.4 billion and 696 jobs.

The British Ambassador Chris Sainty said: “The reason we are here is to celebrate the outstanding success of the very many Portuguese companies which have invested in the UK, and the equally outstanding success of many British companies who have achieved business wins through their investment in the Portuguese market.

“All of you represent spectacular achievement that brings so much profit, employment and prosperity in tangible benefits to the economies of both countries.”
In the last financial year, from April 2018 to March 2019, these Portuguese companies translate into an investment of £1.2 billion. “I think that shows a tremendous demonstration of Portuguese commitment to the long-established and very healthy investment relationship between Portugal and the United Kingdom.”

Portuguese investment in the UK covers a wide swathe of sectors from renewable energy, telecommunications, life sciences, technology and digital. As for the performance of UK companies, their presence in Portugal and exports to Portugal represented for the year a total of £589 million. This came mostly from financial services, life sciences, defence and security.

DIT is today focusing on two main sectors, which economists believe will be vital for the future: technology and clean growth, with an ambitious plan to make the UK the leading market for clean growth by 2025.

The UK’s strength in the technology sector, in data and digital services, was evident at the Web Summit in November, with the number of innovative digital startups from the UK well ahead of every other participating country. And with 40% of Europe’s unicorns and 60% of its tech funding, the UK is very well placed to be the dominant provider of these technologies.

Andrew Mitchell pointed out that Portugal is “England’s oldest ally” and that friendship goes back to 1147 when English Crusaders helped King Afonso push the Moors out of Lisbon. The Luso-British Alliance ratified at the Treaty of Windsor in 1386 is the oldest alliance in the world still in force today. The two have never waged war with each other nor have they taken part in wars on opposite sides since the signing of the treaty.

“Alliances create the conditions through which trade can flourish and trade also depends on affinities with business roots that very often go back for generations, such as the port wine trade. Those affinities are part of the reason Portugal’s trade in the UK is in such good shape today,” he said adding that total trade between the UK and Portugal was worth over £8 billion (+3.55) while Portuguese exports to the UK were worth £5.9 billion (+4.5%) and UK investment in Portugal stood at £4 billion (figures for 2017)(+16.4% on 2016).

Trade continues to rise faster than GDP and, more than 650 years after the signing of the Treaty of Windsor, the UK is Portugal’s fourth largest trading partner.
Collecting the Significant Investor Award, António Mexia, CEO of EDP, shared the fact that EDP’s first venture into offshore wind energy was the UK market. “In 2017, we were awarded a project with our partners that will be ready by 2022 with an investment of around €2.5 billion with ENGIE, Mitsubishi and CTG (China Three Gorges) and in a second investment with partners worth around €5 billion.

EDP is involved in an offshore wind farm at Moray East and Moray West (Inch Cape), off the coast of Scotland.

EDP will also be competing with Total, Equinor and Mainstream to create the first floating offshore wind centre of excellence in the UK, representing a multi-million euro project to accelerate the development of next-generation offshore wind technologies, in an initiative that could create up to 17,000 jobs and generate around €35 billion by 2050.

By Chris Graeme

EDP receives Significant Investor Award at British trade awards