Foreign earnings to pay Hoechst dividend

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The Independent Online
FRANKFURT (Reuter) - Hoechst, the German chemicals group, said it would use foreign earnings and DM200m ( pounds 80m) left over from a tax break to finance a 1994 dividend.

Juergen Dormann, the finance director, said he was sceptical that Hoechst would be able to pay a dividend for 1994 solely from German profits.

Hoechst said earlier that it had made a parent operating loss of DM217m in 1993 after a profit of DM234m a year earlier. It also said group volume sales would probably rise by 3 per cent in 1994 compared with last year.

Mr Dormann said group operating profits had risen slightly in the first two months of 1994, but the increase was not significant and the parent company's results had been flat.

Hoechst's chairman, Wolfgang Hilger, said there had been good news from abroad in the first two months of the year. 'Is this the long-awaited glimmer of hope? We have worked hard and so we can be optimistic,' he said.

The group plans to be more cautious with its investment plans in the near future compared with previous years, Mr Dormann said.

He said the company's high cash flow would allow it to finance its own investment without recourse to a capital increase but that the parent company would not increase its capital in the next three years.

The shares of its US subsidiary, Hoechst Celanese, would be listed on a stock exchange in two to three years, but he did not specify in which country.