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Ciba Posts First-half Loss

Company hit by raw material costs

Swiss chemicals group Ciba on August 19 posted a first-half net loss of 569 million Swiss francs ($517.31 million), hit by weak sales and higher raw material costs. The group also warned that if business conditions deteriorate, it would miss business targets set out earlier this year.

"We experienced intense margin pressure from the escalation of raw material and energy costs, which went up 10% in the second quarter alone, with the heaviest impact in April and May," said CEO Brendan Cummins. He noted that business conditions in the second half "clearly remain a challenge," but Asia continues to post robust growth, offsetting weakness in Europe.

Raw material prices soared eight percent, or by 119 million francs, over the first half of the year.

First-half sales were also weak, reaching just 3.088 billion francs, down seven percent from 3.308 billion francs year-on-year.

The troubled chemical group had only last year recovered from a loss in 2006, posting for the full year of 2007 a profit of 237 million Swiss francs. It held on to a profit for its first quarter, but then warned that it was beginning to feel the impact of the economic slowdown.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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