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The UCB Group in 2002: Preliminary Unaudited Profits. Record Ordinary Profits before Tax of € 494 million, an increase of 7%

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  • The UCB Group achieved a consolidated turnover in 2002 of € 2,514 million, an increase of 2%, compared to 2001.

  • Operating profit (EBIT) rose to € 503 million, an increase of 8%.

  • The ordinary profit showed a record amount of € 494 million, being an increase of 7%, compared to 2001, which had been a particularly favourable year in the pharmaceutical field. The results of 2002 were affected by a loss generated by the Film activities. Because of the exchange rates to be used for consolidation purposes the evolution of the dollar/euro exchange rate had a negative impact on profit growth.

  • The ordinary profit of the Pharma Sector increased by more than 9%.

  • The net profit after tax should be € 331 million, an increase of 4%, compared to 2001.
UCB Group in 2002
(en € millions)20012002
TurnoverPharma Sector1,4271,476
Surface Specialties 1,0481,037
- Chemical Sector652643
- Film Sector396394
Operating profit (EBIT)466503+8%
Net financial charges- 4- 9
Profit before taxation
Ordinary Pharma Sector403440
Surface Specialties 4934
- Chemical Sector4047
- Film Sector9-13
Share in the profits/losses
of apportioned companies-21
Net profits after taxation318331+4%

The year 2002 was affected by several important events for the company, both in the Pharma Sector and in the non-pharmaceutical activities of the Group.

Pharma Sector

In the Pharma Sector, sales amounted to € 1,476 million, an increase of more than 3%, compared to 2001.

In allegy/asthma, Zyrtec is the most sold antihistamine in the world.

On the American market alone, the sales of the antiallergic range reached $ 1,115 million, an increase of 13%, compared to the sales in the previous year. The main competitor of Zyrtec in the US prescription market is now exclusively available on an OTC basis, which clarifies the situation to the advantage of UCB's antihistamine, which continues to gain market share. Zyrtec has in addition been granted by the American FDA its approval for use with children from 6 months old, which makes it the only antiallergic medicine indicated for this age range. An extension of six months to its patent has been granted on the basis of the results of a programme of clinical studies in paediatrics. Protection is thereby extended to December 2007.

In Japan, the sales of Zyrtec expressed in local currency have fallen by 6%, but it should be noted that the price of these medicines was cut by 6.3% in the same period. The year 2002 also saw the arrival of a new competing product on the market, together with the strengthening of promotional pressure in the allergy field. In this difficult context, the market share of Zyrtec has been maintained at 17%.

In Europe, considering the expiry of patents in certain countries, the allergy range of UCB maintained at 34% its market shares compared to the first half of the year, achieving a turnover of € 315 million. UCB continued the deployment of its new antiallergic, Xyzal. A clinical study has recently showed that it acts more rapidly and for longer than certain of its rivals. In addition Zyrtec has continued to maintain its good position in the prescription market.

In total, the worldwide turnover of the antiallergic range reached € 1.7 bilion, an increase of 2%, a figure which includes the sales made by licensees, the main one being Pfizer in the United States.

In neurology, with a total turnover of € 231 million, Keppra increased its sales by 89%, compared to 2001 and passed the significant threshold of 200,000 patients being treated per year.

After a second full year of sales in the United States, the anti-epileptic Keppra achieved a turnover there of € 164 million. Due to the success met on its introduction in new countries, the European contribution of this medicine to turnover has more than doubled to reach € 66 million. Keppra currently occupies third place worldwide in the market for new anti-epileptics in the specific field of the treatment of epilepsy. The anti-epileptic is currently available in 24 countries and is awaiting price approval by the national authorities in 10 other countries.

Non-pharmaceutical activities.

Following the acquisition of the resin, additives and adhesive activities of Solutia, UCB has decided to regroup its chemical and film activities in Surface Specialities. This new acquisition strengthens the position of UCB in the treatment of surfaces with a portfolio of complementary technologies unequalled in the market. Synergies and economies of scale are expected both from this acquisition and from the regrouping.

This new structure, effective from 2003, does not yet effect the reporting of 2002, which continues to be established on the traditional basis.

With an ordinary profit of € 47 million, an increase of 18% compared to 2001, the chemical activities confirm their good health, which shows in a net improvement to their contribution to Group profits.

In the film field, the results show a loss of € 13 million in 2002, but a return to equilibrium was begun during the last quarter of the year, due to a programme of recovery and an improvement in markets seen in Europe. The recovery should continue during the year 2003.

In an uncertain economic context, the strategy of UCB remains nevertheless clearly defined.

For the Pharma Sector, the objectives are the consolidation of its place as leader in the field of allergy and the continuation of the development of Keppra, which has already exceeded all forecasts. UCB Pharma, which remains the privileged axis of development for the Group, will support its growth by the intensification of its research programme and by the pursuit of acquisition projects.

The total profits of the non-pharmaceutical activities should evolve positively in 2003, due to the acquisition of the activities from Solutia, the recovery of the film activities and the synergies inherent in Surface Specialities.

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