|Leverage factor: Economic debt/Operating EBITDA1)||< 2.5||2.4||2.7|
|Coverage ratio: Operating EBITDA/financial result1)||> 4.0||10.1||7.5|
|Equity ratio: Equity to total assets (in percent)||> 25.0||41.2||38.9|
1) After modifications.
Bertelsmann utilizes a financial control system employing quantitative financial targets concerning the Group’s economic debt and, to a lesser extent, its capital structure. One of the financial targets is a dynamic leverage factor calculated as the ratio of economic debt to operating EBITDA and limited to the defined maximum of 2.5. In determining the leverage factor, the hybrid bonds are accounted for at 50 percent. Economic debt is defined as net financial debt less the 50 percent par value component of the hybrid bonds plus provisions for pensions, profit participation capital and the net present value of operating leases. Like operating EBITDA, economic debt is modified for calculation purposes.
As of December 31, 2015, the leverage factor of Bertelsmann was 2.4, below the previous year’s value and below its selfimposed maximum value of 2.5 (December 31, 2014: 2.7). As of December 31, 2015, economic debt was reduced to €5,609 million from €6,039 million in the previous year. This reduction was primarily achieved through the hybrid bonds issued in the reporting period which are allocated at only 50 percent to economic debt. The net financial debt increased to €2,765 million (previous year: €1,689 million). The increase is mainly attributable to a voluntary contribution of €650 million to the plan assets held under the trusteeship of Bertelsmann Pension Trust e. V. as part of the inclusion of Gruner + Jahr and Prinovis. Consequently, the pension provisions and similar obligations were reduced and amounted to €1,709 million as of December 31, 2015 (December 31, 2014: €2,698 million).
Another financial target is the coverage ratio. This is calculated as the ratio of operating EBITDA (after modifications) to financial result and is supposed to be above 4. In the reporting period, the coverage ratio was 10.1 (previous year: 7.5). The Group’s equity ratio was 41.2 percent (December 31, 2014: 38.9 percent), which remains significantly above the self-imposed minimum of 25 percent.