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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

_________________________________________

FORM 20-F

REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

OR

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the transition period from ____________________ to ____________________

OR

SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

Date of event requiring this shell company report ____________________

Commission file number: 001-16429

_________________________________________

ABB Ltd

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Switzerland

(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

Affolternstrasse 44

CH-8050, Zurich, Switzerland

(Address of principal executive offices)

Richard A. Brown

Affolternstrasse 44

CH-8050, Zurich, Switzerland

Telephone: +41-43-317-7111

Facsimile: +41-43-317-7992

(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of each class

Trading Symbol(s)

Name of each exchange on which registered

American Depositary Shares, each representing one Registered Share

ABB

New York Stock Exchange

Registered Shares, par value CHF 0.12

N/A

New York Stock Exchange*

_________________________________________

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None.

Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act: None.

Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report: 2,133,501,111 Registered Shares

_________________________________________

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes  No

If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Yes No 

Note – Checking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes  No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes  No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

Emerging growth company

 

If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

† The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.

Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:

U.S. GAAP International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board Other

If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.

Item 17 Item 18

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes No 

__________________________________________________

*Listed on the New York Stock Exchange not for trading or quotation purposes, but only in connection with the registration of American Depositary Shares pursuant to the requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

 

 


 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

Page

PART I

4

Item 1.

Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers

4

Item 2.

Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable

4

Item 3.

Key Information

4

Item 4.

Information on the Company

17

Item 4A.

Unresolved Staff Comments

34

Item 5.

Operating and Financial Review and Prospects

35

Item 6.

Directors, Senior Management and Employees

84

Item 7.

Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions

130

Item 8.

Financial Information

130

Item 9.

The Offer and Listing

132

Item 10.

Additional Information

132

Item 11.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

141

Item 12.

Description of Securities Other than Equity Securities

142

PART II

143

Item 13.

Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies

143

Item 14.

Material Modifications to the Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds

143

Item 15.

Controls and Procedures

144

Item 16A.

Audit Committee Financial Expert

145

Item 16B.

Code of Ethics

145

Item 16C.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

145

Item 16D.

Exemptions from the Listing Standards for Audit Committees

146

Item 16E.

Purchase of Equity Securities by Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers

146

Item 16F.

Change in Registrant’s Certifying Accountant

146

Item 16G.

Corporate Governance

146

Item 16H.

Mine Safety Disclosure

146

PART III

147

Item 17.

Financial Statements

147

Item 18.

Financial Statements

147

Item 19.

Exhibits

148

 

(i


 

INTRODUCTION

ABB Ltd is a corporation organized under the laws of Switzerland. In this Annual Report on Form 20-F (Annual Report), “the ABB Group,” “the Group,” “ABB,” the “Company,” “we,” “our” and “us” refer to ABB Ltd and its consolidated subsidiaries (unless the context otherwise requires). We also use these terms to refer to ABB Asea Brown Boveri Ltd and its subsidiaries prior to the establishment of ABB Ltd as the holding company for the entire ABB Group in 1999, as described in this Annual Report under “Item 4. Information on the Company—Introduction—History of the ABB Group”. Our American Depositary Shares (each representing one registered share of ABB Ltd) are referred to as “ADSs”. The registered shares of ABB Ltd are referred to as “shares”. Our principal corporate offices are located at Affolternstrasse 44, CH-8050 Zurich, Switzerland, telephone number +41-43-317-7111.

FINANCIAL AND OTHER INFORMATION

The Consolidated Financial Statements of ABB Ltd, including the Notes thereto, as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, and for each of the years in the three-year period ended December 31, 2019, (our Consolidated Financial Statements) have been prepared in accordance with United States generally accepted accounting principles (U.S. GAAP).

In this Annual Report: (i) “$,” “U.S. dollar” and “USD” refer to the lawful currency of the United States of America; (ii) “CHF” and “Swiss franc” refer to the lawful currency of Switzerland; (iii) “EUR” and “euro” refer to the lawful currency of the participating member states of the European Economic and Monetary Union (Eurozone); (iv) “SEK” and “Swedish krona” refer to the lawful currency of Sweden; (v) “Chinese renminbi” and “CNY” refer to the lawful currency of the People’s Republic of China; (vi) “AED” refers to the lawful currency of the United Arab Emirates; (vii) “AUD” and “Australian dollar” refer to the lawful currency of Australia; (viii) “INR” and “Indian Rupee” refer to the lawful currency of India, and (ix) “HKD” refers to the Hong Kong dollar. Information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our Web site does not constitute a part of this annual report and is not incorporated by reference herein.

Except as otherwise stated, all monetary amounts in this Annual Report are presented in U.S. dollars. Where specifically indicated, amounts in Swiss francs have been translated into U.S. dollars. These translations are provided for convenience only, and they are not representations that the Swiss franc could be converted into U.S. dollars at the rate indicated. The twelve o’clock buying rate in the City of New York for cable transfers as certified for customs purposes by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for Swiss francs on December 31, 2019, was $1.00 = CHF 0.9677. The twelve o’clock buying rate for Swiss francs on February 21, 2020, was $1.00 = CHF 0.9781.

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We intend such forward-looking statements to be covered by the safe harbor provisions for forward-looking statements contained in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (Exchange Act). These forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology, including the terms “believes,” “estimates,” “anticipates,” “expects,” “intends,” “may,” “will,” or “should” or, in each case, their negative, or other variations or comparable terminology. These forward-looking statements include all matters that are not historical facts. They appear in a number of places throughout this Annual Report and include statements regarding our intentions, beliefs or current expectations concerning, among other things, our results of operations, financial condition, liquidity, prospects, growth, dispositions, strategies and the countries and industries in which we operate.

1


 

These forward looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about our financial condition and performance, operating results, liquidity and our ability to fund our business operations and initiatives, capital expenditure and debt service obligations, plans regarding our capital structure, ability to take advantage of market opportunities and drive growth, our products and service offerings and their anticipated performance and impact across various industries and consumer segments, anticipated benefits to the shareholders, planned divestments, including the expected timing for the closing of the divestment of 80.1 percent of the Power Grids business to Hitachi Ltd., acquisitions and integration, including the acquisition of General Electric Company’s Industrial Solutions business, and related synergies and other benefits, investment and risk management strategies, volatility in the credit markets, oil prices, foreign currency exchange rates and other market conditions, trends and opportunities, industry trends and expectations, including the Energy and Fourth Industrial Revolutions and changing consumer behavior and demands, our ability to respond to changing business and economic conditions, our comparative advantages, our commitments and contingencies, availability of raw materials, and other plans, goals, strategies, priorities and initiatives related to our business, including our brand management initiative, ABB Operating System, and cost-saving measures, as well as, the following:

statements in “Item 3. Key Information—Dividends and Dividend Policy” regarding our policy on future dividend payments,

statements in “Item 3. Key Information—Risk Factors,”

statements in “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” regarding our management objectives, including our outlook, as well as trends in results, prices, volumes, operations, margins and overall market trends, and

statements in “Item 8. Financial Information—Legal Proceedings” regarding the outcome of certain legal and compliance matters.

By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties because they relate to events and depend on circumstances that may or may not occur in the future. We caution you that forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and that our actual results of operations, financial condition and liquidity, and the development of the countries and industries in which we operate, may differ materially from those described in or suggested by the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report. In addition, even if our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity, and the development of the countries and industries in which we operate, are consistent with the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report, those results or developments may not be indicative of results or developments in subsequent periods. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations are contained in cautionary statements in this Annual Report and include, without limitation, the following:

Our business is exposed to risks associated with the volatile global economic environment and political conditions.

Our operations in emerging markets expose us to risks associated with conditions in those markets.

We may encounter difficulty in managing our business due to the global nature of our operations.

We operate in very competitive and rapidly changing markets and could be adversely affected if we fail to keep pace with technological changes.

An inability to protect our intellectual property rights could adversely affect our business.

Increased information technology (IT) security threats and more sophisticated cyber‑attacks could pose a risk to our systems, networks, products, solutions and services.

Failure to comply with evolving data privacy and data protection laws and regulations or to otherwise protect personal data, may adversely impact our business and financial results.

2


 

Industry consolidation could result in more powerful competitors and fewer customers.

If we are unable to attract and retain qualified management and personnel then our business may be adversely affected.

Our business strategy may include making strategic divestitures. There can be no assurance that any divestitures will provide business benefit.

Anticipated benefits of historical, existing and potential future mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures or strategic alliances may not be realized.

There is no guarantee that our ongoing efforts to reduce costs will be successful.

Illegal behavior by any of our employees or agents could have a material adverse impact on our consolidated operating results, cash flows, and financial position as well as on our reputation and our ability to do business.

Our business subjects us to considerable potential exposure to litigation and legal claims and could be materially adversely affected if we incur legal liability.

If a material weakness were identified in our internal control over financial reporting, that could result in material inaccuracies in our consolidated financial statements and adversely affect our business and results of operations.

We may be the subject of product liability claims.

Examinations by tax authorities and changes in tax regulations could result in lower earnings and cash flows.

We are subject to environmental laws and regulations in the countries in which we operate. We incur costs to comply with such regulations, and our ongoing operations may expose us to environmental liabilities.

We could be affected by future laws or regulations enacted to address climate change concerns as well as the physical effects of climate change.

Undertaking long‑term, technically complex projects or projects that are dependent upon factors not wholly within our control could adversely affect our profitability and future prospects.

Increases in costs or limitation of supplies of raw materials may adversely affect our financial performance.

If we are unable to obtain performance and other guarantees from financial institutions, we may be prevented from bidding on, or obtaining, some contracts, or our costs with respect to such contracts could be higher.

Our multi-national operations expose us to the risk of fluctuations in currency exchange rates.

Our hedging activities may not protect us against the consequences of significant fluctuations in exchange rates, interest rates or commodity prices on our earnings and cash flows.

The uncertainties surrounding the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the European Union may have a negative effect on global economic conditions, financial markets and our business.

3


 

We urge you to read the other important factors set forth under sections of this Annual Report entitled “Item 3. Key Information—Risk Factors,” “Item 4. Information on the Company” and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” for a more complete discussion of the important factors that could affect our future performance and the countries and industries in which we operate. In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the forward-looking circumstances described in this Annual Report and the assumptions underlying them may not occur.

Except as required by law or applicable stock exchange rules or regulations, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. All subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements attributable to us or to persons acting on our behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements referred to above and contained elsewhere in this Annual Report.

PART I

Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers

Not applicable

 

Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable

Not applicable

 

Item 3. Key Information

SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

The following table presents our selected financial and operating information at the dates and for each of the periods indicated. We report our financial results in U.S. dollars. Due to our global operations, a significant amount of our revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities are denominated in other currencies. As a consequence, movements in exchange rates between currencies may affect our profitability, the comparability of our results between periods, as well as the reported carrying value of our assets and liabilities. You should read the following information together with the information contained in “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects,” as well as our Consolidated Financial Statements and the Notes thereto, included elsewhere in this Annual Report.

4


 

Our selected financial data in the following tables as well as financial information in “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” is presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP and have been derived from our published Consolidated Financial Statements. Our Consolidated Financial Statements as of and for each of the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, were audited by KPMG AG. Our Consolidated Financial Statements as of December 31, 2017, and for each of the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016, were audited by Ernst & Young AG. Our Consolidated Financial Statements as of December 31, 2016, and as of and for the year ended December 31, 2015, have not been audited following the reclassification in 2018 of certain businesses from continuing operations to discontinued operations.

 

INCOME STATEMENT DATA:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

unaudited

($ in millions, except per share data in $)

2019

 

2018

 

2017

 

2016

 

2015

Total revenues

27,978

 

27,662

 

25,196

 

24,929

 

26,459

Total cost of sales(1)

(19,072)

 

(19,118)

 

(17,350)

 

(17,396)

 

(18,429)

Gross profit

8,906

 

8,544

 

7,846

 

7,533

 

8,030

Selling, general and administrative expenses(1)

(5,447)

 

(5,295)

 

(4,765)

 

(4,532)

 

(4,769)

Non-order related research and development expenses(1)

(1,198)

 

(1,147)

 

(1,013)

 

(967)

 

(1,041)

Other income (expense), net

(323)

 

124

 

162

 

(105)

 

(102)

Income from operations

1,938

 

2,226

 

2,230

 

1,929

 

2,118

Interest and dividend income

67

 

72

 

73

 

71

 

74

Interest and other finance expense

(215)

 

(262)

 

(234)

 

(201)

 

(240)

Non-operational pension (cost) credit(1)

72

 

83

 

33

 

(38)

 

(20)

Income from continuing operations before taxes

1,862

 

2,119

 

2,102

 

1,761

 

1,932

Provision for taxes

(772)

 

(544)

 

(583)

 

(526)

 

(566)

Income from continuing operations, net of tax

1,090

 

1,575

 

1,519

 

1,235

 

1,366

Income from discontinued operations, net of tax

438

 

723

 

846

 

799

 

689

Net income

1,528

 

2,298

 

2,365

 

2,034

 

2,055

Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests

(89)

 

(125)

 

(152)

 

(135)

 

(122)

Net income attributable to ABB

1,439

 

2,173

 

2,213

 

1,899

 

1,933

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amounts attributable to ABB shareholders:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Income from continuing operations, net of tax

1,043

 

1,514

 

1,441

 

1,172

 

1,289

Income from discontinued operations, net of tax

396

 

659

 

772

 

727

 

644

Net income

1,439

 

2,173

 

2,213

 

1,899

 

1,933

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic earnings per share attributable to ABB shareholders:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Income from continuing operations, net of tax

0.49

 

0.71

 

0.67

 

0.54

 

0.58

Income from discontinued operations, net of tax

0.19

 

0.31

 

0.36

 

0.34

 

0.29

Net income

0.67

 

1.02

 

1.04

 

0.88

 

0.87

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diluted earnings per share attributable to ABB shareholders:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Income from continuing operations, net of tax

0.49

 

0.71

 

0.67

 

0.54

 

0.58

Income from discontinued operations, net of tax

0.19

 

0.31

 

0.36

 

0.34

 

0.29

Net income

0.67

 

1.02

 

1.03

 

0.88

 

0.87

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weighted-average number of shares outstanding (in millions)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

used to compute:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic earnings per share attributable to ABB shareholders

2,133

 

2,132

 

2,138

 

2,151

 

2,226

Diluted earnings per share attributable to ABB shareholders

2,135

 

2,139

 

2,148

 

2,154

 

2,230

 

5


 

BALANCE SHEET DATA:

 

 

 

 

 

 

unaudited

 

December 31,

($ in millions)

2019

 

2018

 

2017

 

2016

 

2015

Cash and equivalents

3,544

 

3,445

 

4,526

 

3,644

 

4,565

Marketable securities and short-term investments

566

 

712

 

1,083

 

1,953

 

1,625

Total assets(2)(3)

46,108

 

44,441

 

43,458

 

39,391

 

41,313

Long-term debt (excluding current maturities of long-term debt)

6,772

 

6,587

 

6,682

 

5,785

 

5,421

Total debt(4)

9,059

 

8,618

 

7,408

 

6,783

 

7,408

Common stock

188

 

188

 

188

 

192

 

1,440

Total stockholders’ equity (including noncontrolling interests)

13,980

 

14,534

 

15,349

 

13,897

 

14,988

 

CASH FLOW DATA:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

unaudited

($ in millions)

2019

 

2018

 

2017

 

2016

 

2015

Operating activities:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net cash provided by operating activities — continuing operations

1,899

 

2,352

 

2,588

 

2,607

 

2,700

Net cash provided by operating activities — discontinued operations

426

 

572

 

1,211

 

1,236

 

1,118

Net cash provided by operating activities

2,325

 

2,924

 

3,799

 

3,843

 

3,818

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Investing activities:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net cash used in investing activities — continuing operations

(651)

 

(2,908)

 

(1,118)

 

(1,108)

 

(801)

Net cash used in investing activities — discontinued operations

(164)

 

(177)

 

(332)

 

(197)

 

(173)

Net cash used in investing activities

(815)

 

(3,085)

 

(1,450)

 

(1,305)

 

(974)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Financing activities:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net cash used in financing activities — continuing operations

(1,328)

 

(741)

 

(1,688)

 

(3,308)

 

(3,348)

Net cash used in financing activities — discontinued operations

(55)

 

(48)

 

(47)

 

(47)

 

(32)

Net cash used in financing activities

(1,383)

 

(789)

 

(1,735)

 

(3,355)

 

(3,380)


(1) In January 2018, we adopted an