11-May-2001 - Celanese GmbH

Celanese positioned on the path to growth

Claudio Sonder: "We want to make Celanese one of the most attractive companies in the chemical industry"

"We have made a profit and have positioned Celanese AG on the path to growth. At the same time, we have enhanced value for our shareholders." Claudio Sonder, Celanese AG CEO and chairman of the board, summed up this positive result at Celanese AG's annual shareholder meeting on May 9, 2001 in Oberhausen.

Celanese AG's net sales increased by 21% in 2000 to €5.2 billion. EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), excluding special charges—the benchmark for the company's performance—rose by 33% to €500 million. Due to higher earnings per share of €1.09 (compared to a loss of €3.70 per share in 1999), the management board has proposed paying a dividend of €0.40 per share versus €0.11 per share in 1999.

"Focus" to increase efficiency, reduce working capital and optimize investments

"Although we can look back with satisfaction at what we have achieved in the past years, we have decided on a challenging program to continue focusing and optimizing our company for 2001. We have called this the FOCUS Initiative," declared Sonder. The main goals of FOCUS are to increase the company's earnings, reduce working capital and optimize investments. "Celanese will continue to improve costs and efficiency. Portfolio and structural changes will regularly be the order of the day," added CFO Perry W. Premdas.

These measures are intended to contribute toward enhancing company growth. Priority will be given to the core businesses in which the company is a technology and market leader, such as in acetic acid production. That is why it is essential for Celanese to safeguard its position and expand this core business. Last year's acquisition of the polyvinyl alcohol business from Air Products for €359 million extended the value chain and was therefore completely in line with this strategy.

Growth initiatives to secure and expand core businesses

As further examples of core business expansion, Sonder cited the acetic acid complex in Singapore which Celanese has built to strengthen its market presence in Asia, and Ticona's growth initiatives. The Technical Polymers Ticona segment expanded its Asian business with the startup of a 30,000 metric ton-per-year polyacetal plant by Polyplastics, a joint venture company, and also operates Korean Engineering Plastics, a joint venture with Mitsubishi, in Korea.

Ticona's other growth initiatives include the September startup of a large-scale plant to produce the technical polymer Topas® , in Oberhausen; construction of a new plant to produce ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene GUR® in Bishop, Texas; the capacity expansion of Vectra®, a liquid crystal polymer, at the Shelby, North Carolina site; and the capacity expansion in Kelsterbach for Hostaform® polyacetal, of which Ticona is a leading producer.

Twofold innovation strategy: process improvements and product developments

Celanese must prepare itself for fiercer global competition, more demanding and specialized customer requirements and even faster-paced technological change. "Our answer to this development can only be: maintain our flexibility and creativity, and continue to innovate," said Sonder. "With innovation, we are pursuing a twofold strategy—process improvements and product developments."

Key innovations that Celanese has just developed include the patented process of methanol carbonlylation for the production of acetic acid, new application areas for the high-performance plastic Topas® and Nutrinova's portfolio expansion to include specialty dietary fibers. Also, Trespaphan's five-layer, printable polypropylene films set new technical and ecological standards.

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