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Sales climb 10 per cent at Roche

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The Swiss healthcare group, Roche, has posted sales of SFr20.3 billion ($11 billion) in the first nine months of the year, with sales advancing 10 per cent in Swiss francs. Sales in local currencies were up four per cent.

However, this improvement was achieved only after fragrance and flavours unit Givaudan, which was spun off in June, was stripped out of the 1999 figure of SFr20.6 billion. This was restated at SFr18.5 billion.

Roche repeated forecasts of an increase in full-year net profit of 10 per cent. This figure excludes special income from the partial sale of its stake in US biotech firm, Genentech, which boosted half-year income.

The Basel-based group said it was also spinning off its infectious diseases drugs unit into a separate biotechnology business to focus on new drug development.

Roche's pharmaceuticals division increased its sales by nine per cent over the previous year (two per cent in local currencies) to SFr13.1 billion. The company said in a statement that sales in both Swiss francs and local currencies gained considerable momentum in the third quarter.

Sales by the diagnostics division advanced to SFr4.6 billion for the first nine months of the year, a rise of 19 per cent in Swiss francs (13 per cent in local currencies) over the previous year.

"All regions contributed to the good result," said the company.

Adjusting for the base effect of the sale of the medicinal feed additives business, sales by Roche's vitamins and fine chemicals division grew three per cent in Swiss francs, but in local currencies they declined four per cent.

Roche reiterated that together with five other manufacturers of bulk vitamins, it has reached an overall settlement on vitamin price fixing allegations in the United States.

Roche said that the provisions set aside in 1999 cover the amount it will have to pay.

swissinfo with agencies

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