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Clariant sales drop as more lay-offs likely

Chemical concern Clariant has reported a net income loss of SFr152 million ($140 million) for the first half of 2009, the company said on Thursday.

Low demand pushed total sales for the first two quarters down to SFr3.2 billion. That is 24 per cent less than the SFr4.23 billion reported for the same time last year.

The company based near Basel had posted a SFr92 million net income gain for the first half of 2008.

CEO Hariolf Kottmann said in a statement released on Thursday that the company had focused on generating cash and decreasing costs, which has led to strong cash flow and solid operating income. He warned turnaround could take time.

“We are still challenged by unprecedented low demand and don’t expect a quick recovery,” he said. “Hence, we are continuing with our efforts to reduce costs, generate cash and simplify our operating structure.”

The numbers mean Clariant will have to lay off more workers in 2010 but it did not say how many. So far the firm has laid off 1,423 employees, with 500 more jobs expected to be cut this year.

The Swiss exchange reacted positively to the news. Clariant stocks were SFr7.13 a share in early trading, up 2.4 per cent over Wednesday’s close.

The multinational corporation employs about 20,000 people on five continents. and agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR