29.6.2007: Meldung: Agbar Group: Chairman describes the takeover bid made by “la Caixa” and Suez as “good news”

The Chairman of the Agbar Group describes the takeover bid made by “la Caixa” and Suez as “good news” during his intervention in the General Meeting of Shareholders

Agbar‘s board of directors has declared Applus+ to be available for sale so as to favour the capacity to invest in the Group’s core activities, water and health.

- The General Meeting approved the 2006 results, which represent a recurrent net profit of 139.3 million euros (12.5% more than in 2005).

- The Meeting agreed on a total dividend of 67.4 million euros, with a 4.6% increase in the dividend per share in relation to 2005.

- The future investments will be centred on the water business, in regulated markets, with legal guarantees and stable frameworks, and on the health division.

- In the health sphere, the objective is for Adeslas to strengthen its leadership in medical insurance and to acquire an even more important position in hospital management.

- The Agbar Group will invest 13 million euros in RDI in 2007 to develop 85 projects and be a leading company in water technologies.

This morning, in the course of the Ordinary General Meeting, the Agbar Group Chairman, Jordi Mercader, stated that the presentation of a takeover bid by “la Caixa” and Suez, reference shareholders of the company, is “good news because it provides stability in an increasingly complex and volatile environment”. Mercader specified that the board of directors of Agbar will make a statement on the specific characteristics of the takeover bid when it has been accepted by the regulatory authorities.

The Chairman of the Group interpreted the decision of the two reference shareholders “as a gesture of trust in Aguas de Barcelona and in its future, and as a commitment to water, which has always been the Group’s core business”.

Mercader moreover confirmed that Agbar’s board of directors considers Applus+ to be available for sale. The Chairman of the Group declared that this decision will allow important investments to be made, especially in the sphere of water.

As regards the future investments of the Agbar Group, Jordi Mercader underlined the need to “give priority to the regulated markets, avoid the risks associated with not very well defined legal or political environments and seek new markets which allow it to develop what Aguas de Barcelona knows how to do: manage, innovate, anticipate”.

According to Mercader, positioning the water cycle as the centre of the Group’s activity means “being leaders in the technologies associated with water and in the definition of the appropriate management models to confront future challenges”.

In this respect, he highlighted the creation of the Water Technology Centre (Cetaqua), in collaboration with the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Mercader specified that the Agbar Group will invest 13 million euros to promote 85 RDI projects in the sphere of water.

Strengthen the leadership

The Chairman of Agbar stated that the objectives of the Group’s health division, led by Adeslas, are to “strengthen the leadership in medical insurance and to acquire an even more important position in hospital management”. He showed his trust in the capacity for growth of Adeslas, thanks to its sound financial structure, and he announced that, during 2007, the Agbar Group will explore investment possibilities in this sphere.

The Agbar Group’s General Manager, Angel Simón, presented the year’s results, which he described as positive, with operating revenues of 3,121 million euros, 13.6% more than the previous year. Simón underlined that the growth occurred in all the sectors, and in particular in water, which represents 45.6% of the Group’s revenues, 17.2% more than in 2005.

Angel Simón stressed that this positive trend was maintained during the first quarter of 2007, in which the Agbar Group obtained a profit of 45.8 million euros. During this period, the operating revenues increased from 727.1 to 837.1 million euros (+15.1%); the operating cash flow from 142.4 to 156.8 million euros (+10.1%), and the operating result from 93 to 102.6 million euros (+10.3%).

As regards the future international expansion, the General Manager stated that “Agbar is a solvent group, which has learned to conduct itself in different markets, and which is prepared to add an increasingly important environmental dimension to the management of the complete water cycle”. Simón underlined the significance of having obtained the water management contract of Oran (Algeria), which represents “the first initiative of the Agbar Group in the Arabic world”.

The board of directors has agreed to go from 13 to 12 members, as a result of the departure of Juan Abelló, who declared his commitment to take part in the takeover bid with his 6.65% block of shares. The board re-elected the director Joan Rosell, whose term of office was ending, as an independent director.
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