16 SEP 1999
At the Annual General Meeting of Compagnie Financière Richemont AG held today in Zug, the shareholders approved the results for the year, including the proposals of the Board of Directors for the appropriation of retained earnings at 31 March 1999.
A dividend of £ 13.50 per Richemont unit will be paid to unitholders by Richemont SA, Luxembourg, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Compagnie Financière Richemont AG. The dividend will be payable without deduction of withholding taxes or charges, on 4 October 1999 against presentation of coupon number 43. The dividend represents an increase of 17.4% over the amount paid in the prior year.
During the meeting, the Chairman, Dr. Nikolaus Senn, made the following comments as to trading conditions and the change of the Group's reporting currency;
"I would like to say a few words with regard to the performance of our luxury goods business during the first few months of the current year. I am pleased to report that the positive trends seen in the latter part of the last financial year have broadly continued. In the Far East, in particular, the recovery in demand for the Group's luxury products has been sustained, with Japan continuing to perform well. Operating profit has reflected the satisfactory performance in terms of sales and, although the first months of the year are not necessarily a reliable indicator of the pattern for the year as a whole, we currently expect that Richemont's luxury goods business will once again produce good results.
Richemont's results in recent years have been significantly impacted by exchange rate fluctuations. The introduction of the Euro on 1 January this year has provided Richemont with an opportunity to adopt a reporting currency which more appropriately reflects the underlying nature of the Group's businesses. In consequence, your board has taken the decision to report Richemont's results in future in Euros rather than in sterling. We believe that this will serve as a better yardstick of performance for the group's underlying luxury goods businesses given the strong European element of the Group's sales and the predominantly Euro and Swiss franc denominated cost base of the Group's manufacturing operations. We intend that the Group's results for the six months ending 30 September 1999 will, for the first time, be presented in Euros. These results will be made public during the course of November."
For its financial year ended 31 March 1999, Richemont reported an increase of 19.6% in attributable profit to £ 461.8 million before exceptional items and goodwill amortisation.
Richemont is a Swiss luxury goods group. The Group owns a portfolio of leading international brands including Cartier, Alfred Dunhill, Montblanc and Lancel as well as the prestigious Swiss watch manufacturers Vacheron Constantin, Piaget and Baume & Mercier. In May of this year it also announced the acquisition of a controlling interest in Van Cleef & Arpels, one of the world's leading high-jewellery brands.
In addition, to its luxury goods business, Richemont also holds investments in the tobacco and direct marketing industries. It's tobacco interests comprise a 23.3% holding in British American Tobacco p.l.c., the world's second largest tobacco company.