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Von Roll widens loss in 2002

Von Roll Isola designs and manufactures insulation materials (Von Roll)

The Swiss materials and technology group, Von Roll, has posted a 2002 loss of SFr138 million ($100 million), substantially worse than last year's SFr86 million loss.

On Thursday, the Zurich-based firm also announced the sell-off of its foundry business.

Von Roll said economic uncertainty had contributed to a 24 per cent drop in sales in 2002 to SFr1.21 billion from SFr1.61 billion in 2001.

"Over the past year, all three of the group's divisions found themselves facing tough market conditions," the company said in a statement.

Earlier this week, the troubled company presented plans for a recapitalisation, based on a debt-for-equity swap.

Chairman of the Board of Directors, Alfred Niederer, told a news conference Von Roll had this week "passed two milestones on the way to its return to health, firstly by reaching agreement with the banks on... restructuring the balance sheet, and secondly by selling Von Roll Infratec".

No job cuts

Von Roll said it had agreed to sell its Infratec division, which makes complex cast products for industry, to a Swiss-led group of international investors.

The Infratec division currently employs 1,099 workers at eight sites, most of them in Switzerland. No jobs are threatened by the sale, the company said.

The sell-off is a further step in the company's reorganisation to focus on core activities.

In January, the company announced the sale of its light metal die-casting activities in St Gallen and the Czech Republic.

It also plans to sell off its Inova thermal waste treatment division.

The company said it would in future concentrate on its Von Roll Isola division, which manufactures insulation products and systems for the electrical engineering industry and composite materials for industrial applications.

Von Roll found itself caught up in scandal last year, when senior executive René Lüthy was extradited to Germany on bribery charges. He later resigned from his position with Von Roll, which was cleared of any wrongdoing in the case.

swissinfo with agencies

Von Roll summary

Von Roll reported a loss of SFr138 million ($100 million) in 2002.
In 2001 the company made a loss of SFr86 million.
It said it had agreed to sell its Infratec complex cast division to an international investment group.
The move is in line with a company reorganisation to focus on its Isola insulation products division.

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