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All motions proposed by the Board of Directors adopted by a large majority
At today's Annual General Meeting, the shareholders of Clariant (SWX:CLN), a global leader in specialty chemicals, adopted each of the motions proposed by the Board of Directors by a large majority.
The Annual General Meeting approved the Annual Report and the financial statements, among other things. Discharge was granted to the Board of Directors and the Management Board. The shareholders also approved a payout of CHF 0.25 per share by reducing nominal value.
Hariolf Kottmann (52), Dominik Koechlin (49) and Carlo G. Soave (48) were elected as new members of the Board of Directors for a three-year term of office. They replace Roland Lösser and Kajo Neukirchen, who have decided not to stand for re-election, and Tony Reis, who has stepped down from the Board of Directors. Peter Isler was re-elected.
Clariant's Chief Executive Officer Jan Secher explained to the shareholders the course business had taken in 2007. He said the foundations had been laid for improving the company's profitability and that the path embarked upon would be pursued with resolve. This would mean implementing cost-saving initiatives on the one hand, and further price increases on the other, with both contributing to a better operating margin in 2008. He referred to the fact that the trend towards consolidation in many customer industries would also impact Clariant. The company plans to manage its portfolio more actively in future, and thus benefit from these consolidation moves.
In Secher's words: "We are currently market leaders for many of our products, but very often in highly fragmented markets that are determined by a multitude of smaller competitors. In such markets, it is extraordinarily difficult to achieve appropriate prices or set trends in technology. This requires consolidation. Here at Clariant we have resolved to actively cooperate in the consolidation of these fragmented markets. In future, we will concentrate on those areas of our portfolio where we enjoy good market positions and solid returns. We will build on our leading position here not only through organic growth but also by means of acquisitions."
Secher also highlighted the importance of both innovations in process improvements as well as innovations in new products and technologies. He mentioned an additive to improve the flow of biodiesel, a nanotechnology product that helps to minimize the economic impact of graffiti vandalism and temperature sensitive polymer dyes from renewable resources as recent examples.
Roland Lösser, the outgoing Chairman of the Clariant Board of Directors, set out the company's strategy in his speech. Referring to the high growth rates in the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, he explained that Clariant will focus more strongly on these markets in the future, but without neglecting the traditional markets in the US and Europe, which are set to remain the world's largest chemicals markets for decades to come. With regard to the company's growth prospects for 2008, the Chairman of the Board of Directors explained the importance of closely monitoring economic developments. However, he said any negative trends had yet to affect Clariant's business performance and further growth is predicted for 2008.
Clariant is a global leader in the field of specialty chemicals. Strong business relationships, commitment to outstanding service and wide-ranging application know-how make Clariant a preferred partner for its customers.
Clariant, which is represented on five continents with over 100 group companies, employs about 21,000 people. Headquartered in Muttenz, near Basel, Switzerland, it generated sales of CHF 8.5 billion in 2007. Clariant’s businesses are organized in four divisions: Textile, Leather & Paper Chemicals, Pigments & Additives, Masterbatches and Functional Chemicals.
Clariant is committed to sustainable growth springing from its own innovative strength. Clariant’s innovative products play a key role in its customers’ manufacturing and treatment processes or else add value to their end products. The Company’s success is based on the know-how of its people and their ability to identify new customer needs at an early stage and to work together with customers to develop innovative, efficient solutions.
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