2.5 Cash flow performance

Accounting policies

The consolidated statement of cash flows is prepared in accordance with IAS 7 using the indirect method. Cash flows in foreign currencies are translated at average exchange rates. Receipts and payments with respect to taxation on profits and interest payments are included in the cash flow from operating activities. Interest receipts and the cost of acquisition of subsidiaries, associates and investments, insofar as it was paid for in cash, are included in cash flows from investing activities. Acquisitions of subsidiaries are presented net of cash balances acquired. Cash flows from derivatives are recognised in the statement of cash flows in the same category as those of the hedged item.

2.5.1 Net cash (used in)/from operating activities

In 2023, net cash from operating activities of €222 million (2022: €240 million) resulted from €277 million of cash generated from operations (2022: €259 million) reduced by €35 million income tax paid (2022: €1 million income tax received) and €20 million interest paid (2022: €20 million).

Cash generated from operations

The increase in cash generated from operations of €18 million is explained by €37 million higher profit before income tax adjusted for non-cash items and investment income, a higher change in working capital of €10 million and a higher change in other provisions of €17 million, partly offset by a lower change in pension liabilities of €47 million.

PostNL Cash generated from operations in million
2022, 2023

Year ended at 31 December20222023
Total profit before tax adjusted for non cash items and investment income1218255
Pension expense defined benefit plans1600
Cash contributions defined benefit plans(85)(0)
Payment unconditional funding obligation(28)
Change in pension liabilities470
Additions to/releases from provisions1024
Change in other provisions(3)14
Changes in working capital(3)7
Total cash generated from operations259277
  1. 2022 excluding change in pension accounting classification

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For the changes in provisions, reference is made to note 3.5 Provisions for pension liabilities and to note 3.6 Other provisions. The lower investments in working capital mainly related to lower trade receivables within Parcels and Mail in the Netherlands, partly offset by a decrease in accruals for terminal dues.

Interest paid

The interest paid is explained as follows:

PostNL Interest paid in million
2022, 2023

Year ended at 31 December20222023
Interest on long-term borrowings68
Interest on leases99
Bank charges and other53

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Income taxes received/(paid)

The income taxes paid of €35 million (2022: €1 million income taxes received) mainly relates to income taxes paid in the Netherlands and Belgium related to prior years.

2.5.2 Net cash (used in)/from investing activities

PostNL Net cash investing activities in million
2022, 2023

Year ended at 31 December20222023
Capital expenditure on intangible assets and property, plant and equipment(138)(126)
Proceeds from sale of property, plant and equipment121
Interest received323
Changes in other loans receivable32
Net cash (used in)/from investing activities(122)(102)

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Capital expenditure on intangible assets and property, plant and equipment

In 2023, capital expenditures on intangible assets of €74 million (2022: €80 million) mostly related to software, including prepayments for software. The capital expenditures on property, plant and equipment amounting to €52 million (2022: €58 million) mainly related to new sorting and delivery centres within Parcels and to various other equipment. Capital expenditures are funded primarily by cash generated from operations and are part of strict cash control and review.

Proceeds from sale of property, plant and equipment

In 2023, proceeds from the sale of property, plant and equipment amounted to €1 million (2022: €12 million) and mainly related to the sale of real estate in the Netherlands.

Interest received

In 2023, interest received increased by €20 million due to higher interest on cash and cash equivalents and the settlement of interest rate swaps (€4 million).

Changes in other loans receivable

In 2023, changes in other loans receivable mainly related to proceeds from a lessor loan relating to the lease of a sorting machine by Bol.com.


In 2023, an amount of €(1) million is included for the acquisition of 2.6% of the shares of Machool Technologies Inc., a financial asset at fair value through OCI (2022: €(2) million for the acquisition of 50% of the shares of De Innovatie Studio, a joint venture and 5.3% of the shares in a shopping services app, an associated company.

2.5.3 Net cash (used in)/from financing activities

PostNL Net cash financing activities in million
2022, 2023

Year ended at 31 December20222023
Dividends paid(165)(29)
Share buyback(164)
Changes related to non-controlling interests(1)(0)
Net cash from debt financing activities(4)(32)
Repayments of leases/incentives(74)(81)
Net cash (used in)/from financing activities(408)(142)

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In 2023, net cash from financing activities of €(142) million (2022: €(408) million) mainly related to the final 2022 and interim 2023 cash dividend paid of €29 million (2022: €165 million related to the final 2021 and interim 2022 cash dividend), the buyback of a eurobond loan of €47 million and the repayments of leases of €81 million (2022: €74 million). In 2022, an amount of €164 million was included related to the repurchase of shares. The net cash from debt financing activities includes an amount of €18 million for new (legal) lease loans relating to two Parcels' sorting centres and sorting machines and €4 million of repayments of these loans (2022: repayments of €4 million). Refer to note 3.4 for further information on leases. Reference is also made to note 4.1 Net debt and note 4.5 Financial instruments.