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Bene AG Financial Results – 3rd quarter to 31 October 2013

Thursday 12 December 2013

Bene AG, which is listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange, has spent the 1st nine months of its current financial year to 31 October 2013 implementing cost cutting measures and endeavouring to increase income. As part of a “controlled reduction of sales,” revenue fell by 18.9% in the nine month period from EUR 153.9 million to EUR 124.8 million. EBITDA in the same period declined from a profit of EUR 2.2 million to a loss of EUR 8.2 million in the current financial year.

The company achieved balanced operating results (EBITDA) again for the first time in the third quarter of 2013/14 in a challenging environment for the international office furniture industry and in spite of the considerable strains imposed by implementation of the restructuring plans.

Following several quarters in which Bene pursued an aggressive growth strategy the Bene Group has been undergoing a phase of comprehensive change since January 2013. As part of its pursuit of the restructuring concept presented at the start of the year Bene has since been consistently implementing measures to reduce costs and increase income. The heart of the restructuring plan centres on measures that are intended to increase Bene’s profitability over the long term. The agreement on restructuring financing that was reached with the banks at the beginning of the third quarter was a further important milestone on the road to an all-encompassing restructuring programme and a restoration to health for the Bene Group. On an operational level, the Austrian experts for office and working environments were able to attract and implement a large number of international orders in the first nine months of the financial year. The figures published today on the first nine months of the current financial year show that the measures implemented are taking effect and essentially match the forecasts published in the middle of the year.

Controlled reduction of sales
As part of the restructuring concept and the concentration on markets with high growth levels, Bene reduced turnover in a controlled manner in the first three quarters by making changes in the sales processes. With the combined effect of the challenging economic environment overall, which also resulted in projects being postponed by customers to subsequent quarters, sales therefore fell by 18.9% in the first three quarters of 2013/14, from EUR 153.9 million to EUR 124.8 million.

Balanced operating results for the third quarter of 2013/14
Bene was able to implement additional crucial steps towards a sustained turn-around in the area of costs and margins. For example, relative to operating performance, reductions were made in both expenditure on materials and services rendered (from 47.3% to 45.9%) and personnel expenses (from 47.3% to 41.9%).

The Bene Group achieved balanced operating results (EBITDA) in the third quarter of the current financial year, despite ongoing difficulties in the competitive environment and further strains from the restructuring measures being implemented. At EUR 0.17 million, this key figure was significantly above the comparative figures for the first two quarters of this financial year, and was also up on the reference value of the previous year. The cumulative EBITDA was down in the first three quarters from EUR 2.2 million in the 2012/13 financial year to EUR -8.2 million in the current financial year.

Debt reduced in the third quarter – liquidity strengthened
The Group’s liquidity situation was satisfactory. Despite the EBITDA figure which was negative, the Group’s net debt only increased by EUR 9.0 million to EUR 64.1 million. Debt even fell slightly compared with the reference date in the middle of the year. The Bene Group therefore remains able to manage and meet its liquidity requirements in full and on time. On a positive note there has not yet been any need to call upon the new funds promised by the financing banks as part of the restructuring, as the operating cash-flow was strong enough to finance ongoing business.

Headcount reduced
The number of employees in the Group was reduced to 1,172 as at the reporting date from 1,380 individuals (31 October 2012) and 1,387 (31 January 2013), respectively.

Outlook
The outlook for the 2013/14 financial year remains virtually unchanged. The Bene Group will not achieve a positive EBITDA overall for the 2013/14 financial year on account of the losses incurred in the first three quarters. Sales for the full year will be slightly below EUR 170 million - following a consistent focus on highly profitable orders and markets plus postponement of projects into the next financial year by customers. All liquidity requirements remain covered based on the Group’s cash forecast.

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