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SGS returns to profit

The world's largest inspection and testing group, Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) in Geneva, says it is back in the black after a disappointing 1998 result.

This content was published on March 27, 2000 - 10:40

The world's largest inspection and testing group, Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) in Geneva, says it is back in the black after a disappointing 1998 result.

Net profit increased from a loss of SFr289.7 million in 1998 to a profit of SFr316.5 million for 1999, including gains on business disposals of SFr202.9 million.

"With a new management team in place, the cost restructuring programme well advanced and the matrix business structure operating effectively, the Board of Directors has full confidence in the strategy of the new SGS," a company statement.

Whereas 1999 was a year in which divestment of business and cost restructuring were focus areas, 2000 and beyond will be years in which attention will be more heavily concentrated on investing in business growth opportunities," it added.

This will include continued investment in core activities, and expansion into new high growth markets such as e-commerce and product and services certification.

In September 1998, SGS reported a substantial reduction in first half profits, due to the weaker performance of the Services to Governments and International Institutions sector, difficult trading in certain key markets and perceived internal efficiencies.

As a result, the group announced a new corporate vision to improve competitiveness, innovation, growth and profitability.

SGS said it would focus on its position as the world leader in its core business - providing assurance through verification, testing and certification of products and services.

The group has divested itself of a number of activities, including services to the insurance industry, and healthcare and biosciences services.

"During the course of 1999, these and other smaller businesses were successfully sold generating combined net proceeds of SFr494 million," the statement said.

Group revenues last year were SFr3,085 billion, a fall of 2.2 per cent from the previous year.

The total number of employees has declined from 38,913 at the end of 1998 to 30,614 at the end of December.

swissinfo with agencies

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