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Economic downturn hits Georg Fischer hard

The Georg Fischer engineering group has announced that sales last year fell by more than a third, as the global economic crisis had “a far-reaching impact”.

Sales fell by 35 per cent to SFr2.91billion ($2.69 billion), resulting in a net loss of SFr238 million compared with a net profit of SFr69 million in 2008.

The AgieCharmilles division, which provides machines and services to the tool and mould making industry, was the hardest hit, while the automotive business unit was also “seriously affected” in the first half, the Schaffhausen-based company reported on Tuesday.

The downturn which affected these two divisions was the worst in 70 years, a statement added.

Georg Fischer’s Piping Systems unit was less affected and managed to limit the sales drop to 13 per cent.

The board of directors is proposing to the annual shareholders’ meeting, taking place later in March, to forgo any dividend owing to the loss and uncertain market conditions.

At the end of 2009, staff had been reduced by 1,845 in line with the company’s restructuring plans calling for a reduction of 2,300 employees by mid 2010.

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