Statement of the Chief Executive Officer to the Shareholders
Brussels (Belgium) - June 13, 2006: 1:00 pm CET - "2006 should be another year of continued solid sales growth as well as substantial re-investment in UCB's promising future driven by Cimzia(TM) and a pipeline of potential new products. We intend to continue our growth through our solid R&D pipeline. A detailed update of our R&D progress will be provided at the UCB R&D days in September 2006 (London: September 26 and New York: September 28). In addition to our organic growth, we are exploring opportunities for targeted acquisitions that fit our strategy and financial goals. UCB's acquisition of Epratuzumab, a specialist product for auto-immune diseases (such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, a severe disease with no new treatment for several years), is a recent example. Recent divestments of non-core activities and products generated cash as well as capital gains, which better position us to combine external and internal growth efforts.
CIMZIA(TM) pre-launch activities are running full steam ahead for a targeted launch during the first half of 2007. The Phase III clinical data from the PRECiSE Programme benefited from very favourable feedback in May 2006 at the Digestive Disease Week, one of the major world medical congresses in gastro-enterology. CIMZIA(TM)'s robust efficacy in once-monthly subcutaneous treatment of Crohn's Disease and its consistent tolerability profile clearly reinforces its potential to become a new treatment of choice in Crohn's disease."
"Looking back, 2005 was a very good year for UCB, both financially and operationally, validating the Company's decision in 2004 to transform itself into a pure biopharmaceutical company, focusing on severe diseases, such as epilepsy, Crohn's disease and soon auto-immune diseases, all dramatically impacting patients and their families' lives. This is what drives us to produce such strong results.
The 2005 revenue increased by 10% (Pro Forma*) to 2 341 million euro (or +24% as reported), supported by a 11% (Pro Forma*) rise in sales to 2 043 million euro (or +22% as reported), fuelled by strong growth in the U.S.A. and Japan. Net profit from our continuing biopharmaceutical operations grew by 16% (Pro Forma*) to reach 270 million euro (or +37% as reported). The total reported 2005 net profit of 755 million euro benefited from a one time profit contribution of 485 million euro resulting from the divestment of the Surface Specialties division, including 475 million euro capital gain. Our flagship anti-epileptic drug, Keppra®, market leader in the USA among the new antiepileptic drugs for treating epilepsy and stronger number 2 in Europe, continued to perform particularly well, increasing its global sales by 34% to reach 560 million euro in 2005. Our allergy franchise in 2005 continued to play an important role with a 21% sales growth of Xyzal® and a solid performance of Zyrtec® in the USA and in Japan due to exceptionally strong allergy season.
I shall close by recognising the hard work and quality contribution of my UCB colleagues and the continued support of the Board of Directors of UCB. We would also like to pay a special tribute to Daniel Janssen, who, after 44 years with UCB, including 8 years as Chief Executive Officer and 18 years as Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors, is due to retire from our Board in 2006. Evelyn du Monceau will replace Daniel Janssen as Vice-Chairman of the Board. And obviously, we would like to thank our shareholders around the world for their confidence and their feedback."
* Pro forma: including 12-month Celltech activities and excluding Surface Specialties activities
The Annual General Shareholders' Meeting has approved the payment of a gross dividend of 0.88 euro per share (net dividend of 0.66 euro per share) compared with 0.86 euro last year (net dividend of 0.645 euro per share). The dividend will be payable on 16 June 2006.
The Annual General Shareholders' Meeting appointed Gaëtan van de Werve as new member of the Board of Directors of UCB.
As from now on, the Annual General Shareholders' Meeting will be held on the fourth Thursday of April at 11:00 am. Next year's Annual General Shareholders Meeting will be held on Thursday April 26, 2007.
The financial results for the first semester 2006 will be announced on July 27, 2006.
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 8 300 people in 40 countries, UCB achieved revenues of EUR 2.3 billion in 2005. UCB is listed on the Euronext Brussels Exchange. Worldwide headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium.
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