Cash flow from operating activities amounted to €112.7 million in 2017 (2016: €63.8 million). This year-on-year rise of €48.9 million was predominantly due to the larger operating profit and the decline in other receivables. There had been a fairly sharp rise in other receivables in 2016, but they were mostly settled in 2017. The change in working capital also contributed to the growth in cash flow from operating activities. Working capital had increased much more significantly in 2016.
The net cash used for investing activities came to €27.3 million in 2017. Besides increased capital expenditure on intangible assets owing to the purchase of distribution and service rights from Liebherr Machines Bulle S.A., the main influences on net cash used for investing activities were as follows. Firstly, we sold the land occupied by our former Cologne-Deutz site. Secondly, DEUTZ AG acquired 100 per cent of the voting shares in both Torqeedo GmbH, Gilching, and DEUTZ Italy S.r.l., Milan (formerly IML Motori S.r.l.).
Financing activities in 2017 resulted in a net cash outflow of €32.6 million (2016: €26.8 million). The net cash outflow in 2017 consisted mainly of the repayment of loans and a dividend payment to shareholders of €8.5 million.
Cash and cash equivalents as at 31 December 2017 had risen by €52.0 million to €143.8 million (31 December 2016: €91.8 million). The net financial position 1) as at 31 December 2017 was €98.2 million, an improvement compared with the same date a year earlier of €66.6 million (31 December 2016: €31.6 million).
Free cash flow 2) improved significantly year on year despite the acquisitions made, climbing by €77.8 million to €82.5 million (2016: €4.7 million) as a result of the aforementioned disposal of assets and the sharp rise in cash flow from operating activities. Consequently, we met our forecast made at the start of 2017 that free cash flow would be in the mid- to high-double-digit million euro range.
1) Net financial position: cash and cash equivalents less current and non-current interest-bearing financial debt.
2) Free cash flow: cash flow from operating and investing activities less net interest expense.