UCB Group : confirmation of an increase in ordinary profits of 7%.
At its meeting on the 14th March, 2003, the Board of Directors approved the accounts and the dividend for the year 2002, which will be submitted to the Shareholders' meeting for approval (*).
(*) The Auditors have confirmed that the accounting information is in conformity with the annual accounts approved by the Board of Directors.
The past year achieved a record ordinary profit before tax of € 494 million, an increase of 7% compared with 2001, which had been a particularly favourable year in the pharmaceutical field.
In 2002, the Pharma Sector continued to expand in its two therapeutic groups, allergy/asthma and neurology, in particular due to its strong growth in the USA. The ordinary profit of the Sector increased by more than 9%, to reach € 440 million in 2002, compared with € 403 million in 2001.
The Chemical activities confirm the growth of their results (+18%), which show a net improvement in their contribution to the Group, thanks notably to the breakthrough observed in China for Specialties. In the field of Films, an ordinary loss of € 13 million was made in 2002, but a return to equilibrium started in the course of the last quarter of the past year, due to a recovery programme and improvement in the markets. This recovery was confirmed at the beginning of 2003 and should continue.
The creation of a unit on a world scale by merging the Chemical and Film activities and the integration of the activities acquired from Solutia within a new Sector called Surface Specialties will ensure UCB a world leadership position in the activities of resins for surface treatments and in specialty films, together with interesting growth prospects, linked to the use of environmentally friendly technologies. Surface Specialties will be supported by a range of up-to-date technologies and by production and research sites throughout the world.
Expenditure on Research and Development amounted to € 262.5 million, compared with € 218 million in 2001, an increase of 20%. Investments amounted to € 164 million, compared with € 194 in 2001.
Prospects for 2003
The Board is confident in the prospects for 2003 for the UCB Group, despite a very uncertain geopolitical climate.
The Pharma Sector, which provides the base of the Group profits, has set itself as objectives to consolidate its position of leadership in the field of antiallergics and in neurology to pursue the promising potential of the antiepileptic, Keppra, which should again achieve strong growth in 2003.
Surface Specialties has the objective to successfully achieve the merger of the chemical and films activities and the integration of the activities acquired from Solutia at the beginning of this year. The new Sector should confirm its leadership position and generate substantial synergies over the coming years. Sales volumes has been well oriented since the beginning of 2003.
The net profit of UCB S.A amounted in 2002 to € 339 million. The Board of Directors proposes to the Shareholders' meeting to declare a gross dividend of € 117 million, compared to €111 million in 2001.
Shareholders would receive a net dividend on the 13th June, 2003, of € 0.60 per share, compared with € 0.57 the previous year, an increase of 5.3%.
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