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Kuoni warns of lower profits

Boardroom battles and Scandinavian troubles weigh on Kuoni


Shares dived as Switzerland's largest travel group Kuoni warned that its first half and full year profits will be significantly lower than last year and well below market expectations. It added that it could sell loss making Scandinavian operations.

Concerned traders sold heavily into Kuoni bringing shares on the Swiss Stock Exchange 19 per cent lower within minutes of opening to trade at SFr510.

Kuoni shares continued to drop throughout Friday, and were worth Sfr445 at the close of trade.

Kuoni said on Friday that it had revised its forecasts downwards because of unfavourable developments in various markets.

The company is faced with problems at a Scandinavian unit and is still recovering from a power struggle which saw the departure of the president, Daniel Affolter, last month.

Kuoni said in March that the first half results would not match the record net profits in the first six months of 2000, when net earnings were SFr40.5 million ($22.87 million) with a group profit of SFr29.9 million.

"For various reasons the decline will be more substantial than that," the company said in a statement.

The Swiss travel group said that in the Scandinavian market demand was proving weaker than anticipated due to the good weather. Also hitting Kuoni's Scandinavian interests were the further drop in the Swedish crown against the US dollar since March and excess charter capacity in the market.

The losses at the Scandinavian unit will, according to Kuoni, be larger than originally expected and it added that it was evaluating all options for the future in Scandinavia and "does not exclude the sale of its Scandinavian subsidiaries".

It owns the Apollo group in Scandinavia, including the Novair charter and Denmark's Alletiders.

Kuoni said the board room battle had also caused additional costs. On June 6, Kuoni chairman Daniel Affolter agreed to step down after a bruising public battle with other board members.

Interim results for the first half of the year will be published on August 15.

swissinfo with agencies


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