Statement of the Chief Executive Officer of UCB to the 2007 Annual General Shareholders Meeting
Brussels (Belgium) - April 26, 2007, 1:00 pm CET - "2006 was a year of considerable achievement for UCB, underlining our ability to build global specialists brands such as Keppra® and consolidate the allergy franchise. The year also highlighted the quality of UCB's science, reflected by the significant progress that was made during the year in R&D. With the acquisition of Schwarz Pharma, we have further transformed UCB through broadening its drug portfolio and strengthening its pipeline, especially in neurology. We believe that we will be able to make even greater advances in the long run, financially, scientifically, and more importantly to the benefit of all our stakeholders, especially patients and their families, and our shareholders and employees.
The 2006 revenue increased by 8% to 2,523 million euros (11% on a like-for-like basis*), underpinned by net sales of 2,188 million euros. Profit from continuing operations amounted to 367 million euro, increasing by 14% on a like-for-like basis*. Sales of Keppra® were especially strong, growing by 36% to 761 million euros - the third successive year with an increasing growth rate. Our allergy franchise also exceeded expectations with sales of Xyzal® growing by 13%, and Zyrtec® growing by 15% in the USA.
UCB now has the key elements, including a rich pipeline and strong science combining biology and chemistry to become a next generation biopharma leader.
As I look ahead in the next five to ten years for the new UCB, I see three different phases for the company:
- Clearly during the next two to three years, we will fully integrate Schwarz Pharma and progress shaping UCB into the next generation biopharma leader. We will focus on investing in new product launches, delivering R&D milestones and continuing improvement in all business areas to enhance our performance, while our product mix will change with patent expiries of Zyrtec® and Keppra®.
- After this initial period, all our current efforts will bear fruit and we shall enjoy accelerating growth. This is already widely recognised in the world financial community.
- And beyond this, our research colleagues are working right now on further breakthroughs for UCB that will deliver additional new medicines for patients suffering from severe diseases.
Our priorities for 2007 are well defined. The successful integration of Schwarz Pharma and the delivery on synergy targets are the foundation for our future success and are on track. We will further maximise Keppra®'s potential, meet our R&D milestones and prepare for new product launches such as Xyzal® in the USA in partnership with sanofi-aventis, and the Parkinson's patch Neupro®.
Since our 2006 results presentation on February 28, we have continued to make significant progress:
- UCB Group is performing well in 2007 and results to date are in line with our expectations. We look forward to announcing our half year results on July 26, 2007.
- CIMZIA(TM) will be, at launch, the first anti-TNF which is a PEGylated and Fc-free antibody fragment with once-monthly subcutaneous dosing. We have complete confidence in CIMZIA(TM)'s robust efficacy and competitive safety.
- We expect to file a Biologics License Application (BLA) with the FDA for CIMZIA(TM) in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis by the end of 2007 based on its solid phase III results. Furthermore, we have decided to conduct an additional clinical study to confirm the induction of clinical response in moderate to severe active Crohn's disease, expecting to impact CIMZIA(TM)'s US launch in this indication. Results from this new study will be available in the second half of 2008. The European approval of CIMZIA(TM) in Crohn's disease is progressing according to plan.
- Both the EMEA and the FDA have approved Keppra® as an adjunctive therapy in the treatment of primary generalised tonic-clonic seizures in adults and children over 6 years old with idiopathic generalised epilepsy. In epidemiological studies generalized seizures account for about 40% of incidence cases, with generalized tonic-clonic seizures estimated at 23%. The new indication, which is the fourth for Keppra® tablets and oral solution, and the second for a generalized seizure type confirms the broad spectrum efficacy of Keppra®.
- We expect to begin Phase III trials for brivaracetam in the treatment of epilepsy and Phase II clinical studies for CDP323 in multiple sclerosis by the end of this quarter.
- Our plans to launch Xyzal® in the US in partnership with sanofi-aventis are progressing well and we are on track to launch in the second half of 2007.
- Discussions and planning to integrate Schwarz Pharma are on schedule. The synergy target of at least 300 million euro after three years is confirmed. We have agreed on a Domination and Profit Transfer Agreement which will be submitted for approval to the ordinary shareholders' meeting of Schwarz Pharma on 8 and 9 May 2007. Once the shareholders' meeting has given its approval, the agreement needs to be registered in local commercial register, upon which the agreement becomes effective. This act will mark what we call "Day 1", the day when UCB and Schwarz Pharma become one company.
- The Parkinson's patch Neupro® (rotigotine transdermal system) is now launched in more than ten European countries (including Germany, UK, Spain, Greece) and has been the most successful launch for a product in its category in these countries. Schwarz Pharma is actively preparing the launch of Neupro® in the USA. The approval by the FDA is expected in the next weeks and the launch is planned for this summer.
- Rotigotine for the treatment of the Restless Legs Syndrome successfully completed its phase III clinical programme and regulatory filing for Europe and the US is expected in the fourth quarter of 2007.
- Lacosamide showed solid phase III clinical results in the treatment of epilepsy and diabetic neuropathy. The regulatory filing of these programmes with both the FDA and the EMEA is actively being prepared and scheduled during the course of 2007.
I shall close by drawing the attention of shareholders to the hard work and substantial capabilities of my UCB colleagues, and the healthy challenge and support of the Board of Directors. We are grateful to all the patients and their caregivers for their encouragement and for their candid and inspirational feedback. And obviously, we would like to thank you, our shareholders, for your trust and for sharing our enthusiasm in building UCB into a next generation biopharma leader".
* On a like-for-like basis, i.e. excluding acquisitions, divestments and exchange rates
The Annual General Shareholders' Meeting has approved the payment of a gross dividend of 0.90 euro per share (net dividend of 0.675 euro per share) compared with 0.88 euro last year (net dividend of 0.66 euro per share). The dividend will be payable on Monday 30 April 2007.
The Annual General Shareholders' Meeting appointed Patrick Schwarz-Schuette as new member of the Board of Directors of UCB and re-elected Roch Doliveux and H.R.H. Prince Lorenz of Belgium.
Next year's Annual General Shareholders Meeting will be held on Thursday April 24, 2008 at 11:00 AM in Brussels (Belgium).
The financial results for the first semester 2007 will be announced on Thursday July 26, 2007.
Headquartered in Brussels (Belgium), UCB (www.ucb-group.com) is a leading global biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the research, development and commercialisation of innovative pharmaceutical and biotechnology products in the fields of central nervous system disorders, allergy/respiratory diseases, immune and inflammatory disorders and oncology - UCB focuses on securing a leading position in severe disease categories. Employing 8500 people in over 40 countries, UCB achieved revenue of 2.5 billion euro in 2006. UCB is listed on the Euronext Brussels Exchange and owns 87.6% of Schwarz Pharma.
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