09 March 1998 00:00 [Source: ICB]
Elf Atochem, part of French oil giant Elf Aquitaine, posted a 12% increase in operating income in 1997 to FF4.10bn ($670m) largely from competitivity gains. Sales rose 8% to FF58.04bn. Of the three divisions, performance products did best with sales rising 18% to FF18.9bn pulled along by consolidation of businesses acquired in 1996, expansion of its marketing base in emerging markets, new applications and products from research.
Basic chemicals sales were up 5% to FF27.04bn with olefins and performance plastics sales making up for a sluggish performance in chlorochemicals. Fertilisers enjoyed less favourable conditions than in 1996, but the company said it has no intention of selling Grande Paroisse, 98%-owned by the parent company.
Fine and industrial chemicals only posted a 2% sales growth to FF12.09bn due to a 'mini-crisis ' in fluorochemicals, while hydrogen peroxide sales suffered in Europe.
Chairman and chief executive Philippe Jaffré of Elf Aquitaine said Elf Atochem was capable of climbing from 13th in the world league of chemical firms to tenth position through growth and acquisitions 'for which it will need to build up debt after which cash flow would take over.' Jaffré said the slowdown in petrochemicals this year should be compensated by chlorochemicals and developments in fine chemicals and performance products. The group has little exposure to the Asian crisis as the region accounts for only 6% of sales.
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