WESEL, Germany - The specialty chemicals Group ALTANA AG achieved sales of EUR 1,342 million in the business year 2008, which is about EUR 38 million, or 3 percent, less than the prior year of EUR 1,380 million. Adjusted for negative exchange rate effects, as well as minor positive acquisition and divestment effects, the operating sales decrease was 2 percent. Due to the effects of the worldwide economic crisis, particularly in the fourth quarter, sales in all regions declined in comparison to the prior year. Asia reported a slight sales decline of 1 percent in 2008; in Europe the decline was 2 percent. Sales in North and South America fell by 7 percent in comparison to 2007, also due to exchange rate effects.
The BYK Additives & Instruments division achieved sales of EUR 450 million in 2008, a slight increase on the reported EUR 445 million in the prior year. Sales of the ECKART Effect Pigments division totaled EUR 351 million, which is a decrease of about 3 percent, or EUR 12 million, compared to the prior year. In the ELANTAS Electrical Insulation division, sales dropped 7 percent from EUR 351 million to EUR 327 million. ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants achieved sales of EUR 214 million; this is about 3 percent less than in 2007 (EUR 222 million).
The financial and economic crisis has led to a severe downturn in the business development in the fourth quarter of 2008. Compared to 2007, sales declined group wide by 16 percent to EUR 274 million. The operating decrease was even 20 percent. All divisions and regions were affected. Despite the comprehensive and immediately introduced countermeasures to reduce costs and increase efficiency, the fourth-quarter EBITDA was only EUR 30 million, following EUR 56 million in the prior-year period.
In the first weeks of the new business year, order entries developed slowly. Therefore, the company expects sales for the first quarter of 2009 to be significantly lower than in the prior-year period.