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Syngenta posts loss amid weak outlook

Syngenta is the world's largest agrochemicals group. syngenta.com

Syngenta, the world's largest agrochemicals group, has posted a net loss of $27 million (SFr37 million) for 2002.

This content was published on February 20, 2003 - 10:02

The figure was down $34 million on a year ago, but took included a $396 million charge for restructuring costs.

The company said on Thursday it would have made a net profit of $265 million before these one-off items were taken into consideration.

Sales also fell over the same period from $6.323 billion to $6.197 billion - down two per cent, but better than analysts had predicted.

The Basel-based group said the outlook for the next 12 months was hardly cause for celebration, forecasting less than one per cent growth in its operating profit margin (EBITDA).

The world's largest maker of crop chemicals blamed the weak dollar and additional pension and insurance costs, adding that the outlook for its key market was looking shaky at the start of the year.

"Agricultural markets remain uncertain at the start of 2003," said chief executive Michael Pragnell.

"We remain committed to delivering increased earnings and steady progress with all performance ratios."

Cost-cutting

The firm, formed three years ago from the merger of the agrochemicals divisions of Astra Zeneca and Novartis, said it had exceeded its cost synergy target for 2002 with savings of $197 million - $22 million ahead of the target announced in August.

Syngenta said it was committed to delivering annual cost savings of $625 million by 2005.

The cost savings programme has included the closure of factories and technology centres. Syngenta, which is the world's third biggest seed producer, employs around 20,000 people in 90 countries.

However, due to weak markets, it was forced to inject $135 million into its major pension funds.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Syngenta is a leader in crop protection and ranks third in the high-value commercial seeds market.
Sales in 2002 were approximately $6.2 billion.
Syngenta employs some 20,000 people in over 90 countries.

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