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BENE AG - Sales and earnings in the second quarter of 2009/10 negatively impacted by economic enviro

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Quarterly report 23.09.2009 - Drop in sales by 24.1% to EUR 95.8 million - EBIT decreased to EUR -6.4 million in the second quarter - Cost cutting measures show first effects - Balance sheet structure still solid Vienna/Waidhofen an der Ybbs, September 23, 2009. In the second quarter of 2009/10, sales and earnings of the Bene Group were still considerably impacted by the difficult economic environment in most of the sales markets. Year-to-date sales dropped by 24.1% to EUR 95.8 million in the first half-year of 2009/10 (first half-year 2008/09: EUR 126.2 million). In Austria, in the first six months of 2009/10, sales decreased by 28.3% to EUR 26.8 million (first half-year 2008/09: EUR 37.4 million). Germany also reported a decline in sales compared to the previous period: Sales amounted to EUR 27.0 million, which is a minus of 19.3% compared to the prior year (first half-year 2008/09: EUR 33.4 million). In the UK, Bene still had to pay tribute to the continuing difficult economic environment: Despite successfully implemented major projects, sales fell by 32.0% to EUR 8.3 million (first half-year 2008/09: EUR 12.3 million). Contrary to the clearly slowed demand and the bad investment climate in Russia, Bene realised several large orders since the beginning of the year and fortunately increased sales by 18.3% to EUR 17.2 million (first half-year 2008/09: EUR 14.6 million). In comparison with the historical reference period of the previous your, sales of the \"other markets\" segment dropped by 42.6% to EUR 16.4 million (first half-year 2008/09: EUR 28.6 million). The ongoing difficult economic environment as well as the increased price competition for major projects in the individual sales markets resulted in a significant decline in the earnings figures of the Bene Group compared to the reference value of the prior year. The personnel and material cost cutting measures implemented already in the first quarter of 2009/10 could only partly absorb this decline. The year-to-date EBIT decreased by EUR 12.6 million to EUR -6.4 million (first half-year 2008/09: EUR 6.2 million). The EBT fell by EUR 13.6 million to EUR -7.7 million (first half-year 2008/09: EUR 5.9 million.) As a result of impairment losses and the increased interest charges from the bond, the year-to-date financial result deteriorated by EUR 1.0 million to EUR -1.3 million (first half-year 2008/09: EUR -0.3 million). The financing structure of the Bene Group was and will increasingly be striving for longer-term debt and the creation of strategic liquidity. Both, the issue of a corporate bond in the amount of EUR 40.0 million as well as the borrowing of a long-term investment credit subsidised by the ERP-fund (European Recovery Programme) serve this purpose. At the end of the second quarter, the equity ratio amounted to 34.2% (January 31, 2009: 46.8%). At the same date, net gearing was 31.9% (January 31, 2009: 11.9%). Mainly attributable to the finalisation and the start-up of the research and innovation centre at the site in Waidhofen/Ybbs as well as the modernisation and expansion of the distribution sites in Munich, Belgium and Ljubljana, additions to property, plant and equipment and intangible assets amounted to EUR 6.9 million in the first half-year of 2009 (first half-year 2008/09: EUR 9.5 million). On the reporting date July 31, 2009, the Bene Group employed 1,401 persons. Compared to the previous period, the headcount decreased by 78 persons or -5.3 %. Worldwide, the markets are still at a low level. According to the current economic forecasts, no improvement of the environment is expected for the business year 2009/10. Due to the general uncertainty of the markets, the Management of the Bene Group keeps focusing on appropriate scenario models to quickly and extensively react to any further development. From today´s point of view, no reliable outlook for the overall year 2009/10 may be provided.

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