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Newsroom Press Releases

Statement of the CEO of UCB at the AGM: UCB executing on its strategy

For 2008: Stable dividend of EUR 0.92 gross (EUR 0.69 net) per share

  • Outlook 2009:
    • New product launches underway
    • Financials: revenue between EUR 3.1-3.3 billion, recurring EBITDA greater than EUR 680 million, net profit to exceed EUR 130 million
  • All resolutions passed the ordinary and extraordinary meeting
  • Brussels (Belgium), April 30, 2009 - 6:00 PM (CET) - Today, UCB held its Annual General Meeting (AGM). During the course of this meeting Roch Doliveux, Chief Executive Officer UCB, gave the shareholders of UCB an overview of the financial year 2008 and the interim report for the first three months of 2009 including an update on the most recent development of UCB. The CEO also confirmed the company's transformation and strategy to build the next generation biopharma leader.

    "2008 was an important year for UCB and 2009 will be another important year in our execution phase, getting us closer to the growth ahead", said Roch Doliveux, CEO of UCB. "The transformation of UCB to become the next generation biopharma leader is making good progress. With seven regulatory approvals, six regulatory filings and four major new product launches in 2008, UCB has laid the foundation for a prosperous future. I am particularly proud that many more patients with severe diseases may benefit from UCB's new medicines in the near future. I want also to praise my colleagues at UCB for their hard work as evidenced by the underlying financial performance in 2008, which is in line with previous years' all time high performance, supported by our successful integration of Schwarz Pharma, the increased focus and the transformation by the Shape program."

    "In 2008, UCB revenue remained stable at EUR 3.6 billion. Despite the Zyrtec® U.S. patent loss in December 2007 and the Keppra® loss of exclusivity in the U.S., all regions contributed to a good sales performance. Our anti-epileptic drug, Keppra® represented a main share of the net sales, consolidating our leadership in epilepsy both in U.S. and EU.  And we made good progress with our new products coming to market, namely to the patients."

    "Underlying profitability (recurring EBITDA) in 2008 reached EUR 733 million reflecting a solid financial performance above our expectations and absorbing the loss of EUR 330 million of Zyrtec® U.S. business after patent expiry. Net profit (after minority interest) reached EUR 42 million in 2008, impacted by significant one-time, non-recurring items, including restructuring and impairment charges as a consequence of the SHAPE programme. Based on the company's dividend policy, which focuses on its long term growth potential irrespective of short-term variations in income, the Board proposes a stable gross dividend of EUR 0.92 per share."

    "The integration of Schwarz Pharma was completed 18 months ahead of schedule and generated synergies of EUR 380 million, well above our original EUR 300 million target. The SHAPE programme was launched in August 2008. SHAPE aims to accelerate the transformation of UCB and focus the company on severe and specialist-treated diseases of the central nervous system and immunology, prioritise investment across products and markets, simplify the organisation, improve competitiveness and profitability. In short, SHAPE serves to sharpen our ability to bring benefits to people living with severe disease.
    This necessary adaptation of the organization to its new specialist reality meant that we had to reduce our workforce by 2,400 people, impacting all major countries in the world. UCB took numerous steps to support each individual impacted, as well as their family, such as the creation of job centres to help each individual find a new path in their professional life. UCB is the first company in Belgium to have created such job centres together with the authorities and workers representatives. After less than three months, more than 41% of the individuals who left UCB and joined the job centre have found a new job in Belgium and more than 50% in Germany and the U.K."

    "In 2008, UCB had to absorb the effect of the Zyrtec® patent expiry in the U.S. in December 2007, as well as the loss of exclusivity of Keppra® in the U.S. where we have been facing generic competition since November 2008. While these challenges were expected, a deviation from the product specification of Neupro® triggered an unexpected setback in 2008. Our decision to recall the product created an out-of-stock situation in the U.S. and limited availability in Europe. In Europe, a cold chain storage and distribution system has enabled us to continue to supply Neupro® to patients. During 2009, all patients in Europe, including new patients, should be able to benefit from this innovative therapy for Parkinson's disease and restless legs syndrome. In the U.S. we have begun a dialogue with the regulatory authorities to bring Neupro® back to American patients. The rejection of lacosamide in diabetic neuropathic pain by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was a disappointment. While Phase III clinical trials have demonstrated clinical effect, the magnitude of effect in this indication has not convinced the regulatory authorities. We are reviewing what additional steps may be needed to make lacosamide available for patients with diabetic neuropathic pain."

    "Beyond these financial and operational results, UCB achieved a record number of regulatory approvals and filings in 2008. Five regulatory approvals in the U.S.: Cimzia® for Crohn's disease, Keppra® XR and Vimpat® for epilepsy, Toviaz® for overactive bladder -which is licensed to Pfizer - and an oral solution for the allergy product Xyzal®. This list includes three approvals for new molecular entities in less than twelve months in the U.S., and in 2008 UCB is the only company with this impressive achievement. Given that the largest 15 pharmaceutical companies obtain on average less than three approvals over a five-year period, this underlines the significance of my colleagues' achievement. In the EU we obtained two approvals: Vimpat® for epilepsy and Neupro® for restless legs syndrome. Six dossiers were filed for regulatory reviews, among them: Cimzia® for Rheumatoid Arthritis in U.S. and the EU and Keppra® XR in the U.S."

     "In 2008, we started our launches which will take full steam this year. We launched Cimzia® for Crohn's disease, Keppra® XR for epilepsy and the oral solution for Xyzal® in the U.S. as well as Vimpat® for epilepsy in the EU. Additionally, in the moment, we are preparing the launches of Vimpat® for epilepsy in the U.S., Cimzia® for rheumatoid arthritis in the U.S. and EU, and in Europe the new-patient-launch of Neupro® for Parkinson's disease as well as the launch of Neupro® for restless legs syndrome."

    "Our long-term strategy of achieving leading positions in the treatment of selected severe diseases in CNS and immunology is being executed. This 'Execution Phase' has gained momentum during 2008 with several regulatory approvals and the implementation of the SHAPE programme. Being successful with our new product launches will allow us to enter our 'Intense Growth Phase' where we intend to unleash the commercial potential of our new medicines such as Cimzia® for rheumatoid arthritis, Vimpat® for epilepsy and Neupro® for Parkinson's disease. Looking further ahead, our drug discovery organisation is already working on new medicines for our 'Breakthrough Phase'. UCB NewMedicines(TM), our new drug discovery through to proof-of-concept organisation, was rolled out in 2008.  Beyond new drug research, we shall continue to increase our focus on core areas and to partner with the best in the world in drug development, manufacturing or commercialisation, as long as it is coherent with our strategy."

    "While no one can claim to be immune from the current global financial crisis, its impact on UCB is currently relatively modest. Our liquidity position remains healthy: the majority of our bank facilities expire at the end of 2011 and available cash is invested prudently."

    "In 2009, UCB aims to launch several new products in the U.S., in Europe and in other markets. The generic competition of Keppra® in the U.S., will have a significant impact on sales in that region, while Keppra® continues to grow in Europe and the emerging markets. We expect to continue delivering strong regulatory performance, in particular by progressing the approval of Cimzia® for rheumatoid arthritis in Europe and in the U.S. Taking the first months of the current year into account, UCB expects in 2009 to deliver revenue of approximately EUR 3.1-3.3 billion, recurring EBITDA greater than EUR 680 million, and net profit, as reported, to exceed EUR 130 million for the full-year 2009, excluding the capital gains resulting from the already-announced divestitures concluded in the first quarter of 2009."

    Consistent with the principals of the SHAPE strategy, UCB announced in January a strategic alliance with the German oncology specialist Wilex to develop UCB's preclinical oncology portfolio and sold commercial operations and product distribution rights for smaller selected markets to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). In February UCB also agreed to the sale of Equasym® IR and Equasym® XL (methylphenidate HCl) for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to Shire and announced that it sold the world-wide rights to its anti-haemorrhagic product Somatostatine-UCB(TM) to Eumedica. This enables UCB to further focus on its core areas in Central Nervous System (CNS) and immunology and to strengthen its presence in strategic markets, actively pursuing its transformation into a leading biopharmaceutical company.

    "Beyond these early achievements of 2009, we are continuing to shape our organisation for the future and to promote the development of our people. While the knowledge and expertise of our people are crucial, it is their passion that makes the difference. UCB is in business for people, in particular to make a real difference for people who live with a severe disease. We are grateful for the commitment and the professionalism of everyone at UCB in a period of uncertainty for the world. We thank our UCB colleagues most heartily for seeing the company through these challenges while producing a successful year and for their commitment to our mission, helping patients who suffer."

    "And we want to thank our many business partners for their confidence in UCB and for their cooperation. Finally, I wish to thank the Board and our shareholders for their support and guidance in transforming UCB into the next generation biopharma leader."

    At the Ordinary Annual General Meeting (AGM) 116 022 915 shares (63.27 % of shares outstanding) were represented. The Extraordinary General Meeting (115 046 548 million shares or 62.74% of shares outstanding were represented), which also took place today, approved all resolutions. For details please see UCB's website www.ucb.com/investors/calendar.asp.

    The AGM also approved for the fiscal year 2008 the payment of a gross dividend of EUR 0.92 per share (net dividend of EUR 0.69 per share) compared with EUR 0.92 per share for 2007 (net EUR 0.69). The dividend will be payable on 8 May 2009 (coupon No. 11).

    The AGM re-elected as Independent Director Baron Karel Boone and renewed the appointment of Gaëtan van de Werve as Director. The AGM acknowledges the resignation as Director of Patrick Schwarz-Schütte. For curriculum vitae of the Board members, please see UCB's website www.ucb.com/investors/governance.asp.

    The Annual Report 2008 of UCB is published on the internet: www.ucb.com/investors/financials/annual-reports.asp

    An interim report on the first three months has been published today, the financial results for the first half year 2009 will be announced on 31 July 2009 and an interim report for the first nine months of 2009 is due on 22 October 2009. Next year's AGM will be held on Thursday 29 April 2010 at 11:00 am in Brussels (Belgium).

    For further information
    Antje Witte, Corporate Communications & Investor Relations, UCB
    T +32.2.559.9414, antje.witte@ucb.com

    Nancy Nackaerts, External Communications, UCB
    T +32 2 559 9264, nancy.nackaerts@ucb.com

     

    About UCB
    UCB, Brussels, Belgium (www.ucb.com) is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the research, development and commercialization of innovative medicines with a focus on the fields of central nervous system and immunology disorders. Employing approximately 10 000 people in over 40 countries, UCB generated revenue of EUR 3.6 billion in 2008. UCB is listed on Euronext Brussels (symbol: UCB).

     

    Forward looking statement

    This press release contains forward-looking statements based on current plans, estimates and beliefs of management. Such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to be materially different from those that may be implied by such forward-looking statements contained in this press release. Important factors that could result in such differences include: changes in general economic, business and competitive conditions, effects of future judicial decisions, changes in regulation, exchange rate fluctuations and hiring and retention of its employees.


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