KWS SAAT AG – Annual Shareholders’ Meeting approves conversion to European Company (SE) (Dec. 18, 2014)

Shareholders approve dividend of €3.00 per share – Change on the Executive Board as planned at the beginning of 2015 – KWS SAAT AG intends to continue profitable growth in fiscal 2014/2015 – Double-digit EBIT margin forecast despite a further increase in expenditure on R&D and distribution

The shareholders of KWS SAAT AG (ISIN: DE0007074007) voted by a large majority in favor of all proposals by the Supervisory Board and the Executive Board at today’s Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in Einbeck. The dividend remains stable, despite the nine-percent drop in operating income (EBIT) in fiscal 2013/2014 . Despite good overall operating performance, income was reduced primarily by the planned increase in expenditure on product development and distribution. Shareholders also voted in favor of converting KWS SAAT†AG into a European Company (SE). Chief Executive Officer Philip von dem Bussche, who will leave the Executive Board as planned at the end of 2014, was given a farewell to great applause from the shareholders.

Strong balance sheet forms the basis for profitable growth in net sales

KWS’ shareholders welcomed the Executive Board’s long-term growth strategy. For example, investments in the company’s future growth were increased again in fiscal 2013/2014 (ending June 30). R&D expenditure rose by 6.0% to €148.8†(previous year: 140.4)†million. R&D expenses were thus 12.6% (12.2%) of net sales. Net sales rose by 2.7% to €1,178.0†(previous year: 1,147.2)†million. Adjusted for negative exchange rate influences, net sales would have grown by 7.1%. Expenditure on product development and distribution increased by €21.9 million and exchange rate effects reduced earnings by around €4 million as KWS generated operating income (EBIT) of €138.4 (€152.1) million. The EBIT margin was 11.8% (13.3%). Net income for the year fell above-proportionately to €80.3 (92.3) million due to special tax effects.

In the cash flow statement, cash earnings were €110.4†(€109.5) million. Cash flows from operating activities fell to €61.0†(84.6)†million as a result of higher inventories thanks to good harvests. Total assets increased slightly by 3.6% to €1,262.8 (1,218.7) million. Exchange rate effects of €19.2 million, which are not recognized in the income statement, and effects from the acquisition of the minority interests in the company’s cereals business reduced equity slightly by 1.8% to €637.8 (649.6) million. The resulting equity ratio was stable at 50.5%†(53.3%).

Conversion to SE underscores KWS’ international orientation

The proposal by the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board to convert KWS SAAT AG to a European Company (SE) met with great approval. This move is intended to reflect the growing importance of Europe-wide and international business activities at the KWS Group: Almost two-thirds of KWS’ employees are now outside Germany. KWS SAAT AG will continue in the legal form of an SE and shareholders’ stakes in the company will not be affected.

Changes on KWS’ Executive Board at the end of 2014

As Chairman of the Supervisory Board Dr. Andreas J. BŁchting announced at the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in 2013, the longstanding Chief Executive Officer Philip von dem Bussche will leave the Executive Board of KWS SAAT at the end of 2014. Effective January 1, 2015, he will be succeeded as CEO on the Executive Board by Dr. Hagen Duenbostel, who was Chief Financial Officer of KWS until mid-2013 and has since been in charge of the Corn Segment. The Supervisory Board had already appointed Dr. Peter Hofmann as a new member of KWS’ Executive Board effective October 1, 2014. Dr. Hofmann will take over responsibility for the Sugarbeet and Cereals product segments and corporate marketing from Philip von dem Bussche. Dr. Peter Hofmann has been with KWS for 20 years and has managed operational business at the Sugarbeet Segment since 2005.

Outlook: The objective is to grow net sales and post a double-digit profit margin

KWS started the first quarter of fiscal 2014/2015 with an increase in net sales of 7.8%. Function costs, including expenditure on distribution and research and development, increased as planned. This expenditure is to be increased sharply again in the year as a whole in order to develop young sales markets and drive breeding of new, high-yielding varieties. Overall, the Executive Board expects a rise in the KWS Group’s net sales of 5% and an EBIT margin of at least 10% in fiscal 2014/2015.


Mandy Schnell

Head of Public Relations

Phone +49 (0)-5561 -311-334


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