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Strategic finance and dividend policy*

We pursue a conservative financial policy characterized by the following aspects:

Financial flexibility and a conservative funding strategy

We ensure that we meet our obligations at all times and adhere to a conservative and proactive funding strategy that involves the use of various financial instruments. Our diversified and profitable business activities form the basis for our strong and sustainable cash flow generation capacity. Moreover, we have several funding resources in place. A € 2.5 billion syndicated loan facility is in place until 2028 to cover unexpected cash needs. This credit line is a backup facility that is intended to be used in exceptional circumstances only.

We also agreed upon several bilateral loan facilities. In addition, we have a commercial paper program with a volume of € 2.5 billion at our disposal. Within the scope of this program, we can issue short-term commercial paper with a maturity of up to one year.

The bond market also represents an important source of financing. The most recent bond issue took place in June 2022 (€ 1.0 billion bond issue). The use of various instruments provides a broad financing basis and addresses different investor groups.

Maintaining long-term and reliable business relations with a core group of banks

We work mainly with a well-diversified, financially stable, and reliable group of banks. Due to our long-term business approach, bank relationships typically last for many years and are characterized by professionalism and trust. The banking group consists of banks with strong capabilities and expertise in various products and geographical regions. We regard these banks as strategic partners and involve them in important financing transactions accordingly.

Strong investment-grade rating

The rating of our creditworthiness by external rating agencies is an important indicator of financial stability. A strong investment-grade rating is an important cornerstone of our financial policy as it safeguards access to attractive financial conditions on the capital markets.

In November 2023, our ratings were confirmed by Moody’s (A3, stable outlook) and Standard & Poor’s (A, stable outlook). We discontinued our Scope rating (previously: A, stable outlook) in December 2023.

Sustainable dividend policy

We are pursuing a sustainable dividend policy. Provided the economic environment develops in a stable manner, the current dividend represents the minimum level for future dividend proposals. Our dividend policy will follow business development and earnings increases over the coming years. However, dividend growth could deviate, for example, within the scope of restructuring or in the event of significant global economic developments. We aim for a target corridor of 20% to 25% of earnings per share pre.

* The contents of this chapter or section are voluntary and therefore not audited. However, our auditor has read the text critically.

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