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UCB Confirms Positive Financial Outlook for 2005

Brussels, June 14, 2005 - At today's Annual General Shareholders' Meeting, Roch Doliveux, CEO of UCB, made the following statement:

"Innovation and globalisation: the foundation on which UCB entered the pharmaceutical market a few decades ago. Since then, it has demonstrated its ability to turn novel ideas into powerful therapeutic and commercial realities, including one blockbuster and another one in the making. This is a remarkable achievement for a company of its size and a testament of the quality of its people, global marketing capabilities, and strategic focus on severe diseases treated by specialists.

 

We have now taken the next step on what promises to be a fruitful and even more innovation-focused journey as a pure "biopharmaceutical" company combining our proven commercial expertise and small-molecule technology with the vast therapeutic potential of large-molecule biotechnology.

 

Two events made this pivotal transformation possible: the acquisition of Celltech and the divestment of our Surface Specialties and Films business.

 

With Celltech, one of Europe's leading biotechnology companies, we have not only significantly enriched our pipeline of novel, specialist products in the therapeutic areas of the central nervous system, inflammation, and oncology, but also gained a powerful R&D engine with particular expertise in large-molecule monoclonal antibodies. Success for biopharmaceutical companies targeting severe diseases is a function of innovation and focus, not size. UCB pursues a pragmatic angle to research that was shared by Celltech before the acquisition: enhancement of established and validated approaches in selected focused areas where we have the expertise to compete globally. With our new combined pipeline, cutting edge R&D and global operating infrastructure, UCB is well-placed to make a major impact in these attractive rewarding markets.

 

The second key event in our transformation into a pure Biopharma was the divestment of our Surface Specialties sector, representing a total turnover of €1.4 billion or approximately half of the Group's activities in 2004 and realizing an ordinary profit of €78 million for the same period. The sale of our Films business was closed on September 30, 2004. The divestment of the Surface Specialities activities was completed on February 28, 2005. We would like to thank our Surface Specialties and Films colleagues for their contribution to UCB's success over the past years and wish them all the best.

 

Despite the scale of our transformation, we have maintained our strategic focus and operational drive, generating strong results in 2004. Net profit rose by 7% (+19% at constant exchange rates) and amounted to €363 million. While turnover grew by 9% to reach €3.1 billion, ordinary profit increased by 16% to €474 million, after correcting for acquisition, divestment and currency impacts (according to Belgian GAAP).

 

Our flagship anti-epileptic drug, Keppra, the market leader among the new antiepileptic drugs for treating epilepsy in the US, performed particularly well, increasing its global sales by 33%. In the allergy field, Xyzal more than doubled its sales (+156%), which more than compensated for the decline of Zyrtec's global sales at constant exchange rate.

 

Looking ahead, the outlook for 2005 is positive. We have successfully completed the integration of Celltech, ahead of schedule. The "new UCB" is now fully operational under one single organization, enabling us to deliver synergies better than expected. Overall, our R&D programs are evolving according to plan and an update will be presented together with the half-year 2005 financial results.

 

The strong performance of its activities in the first months of 2005 allows us to confirm our objective of offsetting at the net income level the contribution of the Surface Specialties sector. We expect to reach a 2005 net income level (according to IFRS) for the UCB Group at least in line with the 2004 level, excluding the capital gain realized on the sale of the Surface Specialties and Films activities.

 

I shall close by recognizing the contribution of my UCB colleagues and sincerely thank them for their hard work, especially in the last twelve months."

 

The General Shareholders' Meeting has approved the payment of a net dividend of €0.645 per share, compared with €0.615 the previous year. The dividend will be payable as of June 17, 2005.

Following the approval by the Annual General Shareholders' Meeting of the appointment of Peter Fellner, Gerhard Mayr, and Arnoud de Pret as new member of the Board of Directors of UCB, the new composition of the Board Committees is as follows:



Audit Committee Arnoud de Pret, Chairman
Alan Blinken
Guy Keutgen
Remuneration Committee       Daniel Janssen, Chairman
Evelyn du Monceau de Bergendal
Gerhard Mayr
Karel Boone


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