UCB : Profits for 2003 essentially affected by the fall in the dollar. | UCB
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UCB : Profits for 2003 essentially affected by the fall in the dollar.

Brussels, June 10, 2003 - The year 2002 showed a record ordinary profit before taxation amounting to €494 million, an increase of 7% compared with 2001, which was a particularly favourable year in the pharmaceutical field. After taking account of the exceptional results and of taxation, the total profits, after taxation, amounted to €332 million, an increase of 4.3% compared with the previous year.

As far as 2003 is concerned, in the Pharma Sector, total sales of Zyrtec, expressed in local currencies, continued to grow. In the United States, the first quarter of 2003 showed a strong increase in terms of dollars, despite the move of its main competitor to OTC. This was, amongst others, due to having obtained the paediatric indication from the age of six months and to the progress of the decongestant form. The sales of Zyrtec in Japan increased slightly despite growing competition in this market. In Europe, sales of Zyrtec are falling due to the progressive introduction of generics in certain countries. As for Xyzal, this has been launched in France and in Spain and will be in Italy before the end of this year. Xyzal will then be available in all European countries. The support of new comparative clinical data should contribute to a substantial increase in sales.

In the field of the central nervous system, sales of Keppra continue to increase throughout the world and make it today one of the leaders in its class. The five first months of the year already show strong growth compared with 2002. Recent studies confirm the effectiveness, tolerability and ease of use of the anti-epileptic Keppra in daily clinical practice.

Surface Specialties, the Sector grouping UCB's chemical and film activities, to which have been added those bought from Solutia, commenced its global integration in February. The chemical specialities showed significant growth taking account of the acquisition, but a contraction in margins due to the unfavourable world economic situation. The films continue their recovery. The activities of Surface Specialities as a whole should benefit progressively from significant synergies in the coming years.

At the Group level, the ordinary profits for the year will be influenced by the unfavourable economic climate, but will be especially affected by the fall in the dollar. At the rate of exchange of 2002, the profits of the Group would be running at a level comparable to those of the previous year.

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Due to the good performance of the past year, the Board of Directors is proposing to the General Meeting that the net dividend per share should be €0.60, compared with €0.57 the previous year. The dividend is payable from the 13th June, 2003.

This level of dividend is equivalent to 35% of the profits of the Group after taxation.

In consequence, UCB benefits from a further strengthening of its shareholders' funds at the end of 2002, which after distribution amount to €1,565 million, compared to €1,391 million at the end of 2001.

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