Against the backdrop of an unprecedented economic crisis, the Group has resolutely implemented and extended its action plan.
Cost cutting program extended: €440m in cost savings over the first half; €1,100m over the full year (versus an initial target of €600 million).
Priority given to sales prices: up 1.7% over the period. Acquisition projects put on hold and capital expenditure significantly reduced: down €358m over the first half and down €700m over the full year (versus an initial target reduction of €500 million).
Free cash flow totaling €873m over 12 months, and operating working capital requirement (WCR) reduced by €924m over the 12 months to June 30.
Balance sheet strengthened: €2.4bn of net debt paid down over 12 months and gearing ratio reduced to 66.5% of shareholders’ equity.
Outlook for second-half 2009: barring a further deterioration in the economic environment, operating income and recurring net income should outperform first-half figures.