Rhone-Poulenc battered

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PROFITS at Rhone-Poulenc, the newly privatised French chemical and healthcare group, took a worse battering than expected from the European recession last year, writes Gail Counsell.

Net profits fell more than a third to Fr962m ( pounds 113m), partly as a result of restructuring provisions of Fr1.17bn - up from Fr155m in 1992.

The 36 per cent fall was higher than the 30 per cent drop forecast last November by Jean-Rene Fourtou, chairman. However, the figure was within the range anticipated by analysts of Fr800m to Fr1.1bn.

Mr Fourtou said he did not expect any significant improvement in profits before 1996.

The indications were that the recession had bottomed out in the final months of last year, he said, but 1994 would be a year of transition. Rhone was not counting on a genuine upturn in European economies, he added.

The company, which cut its workforce by 6 to 7 per cent last year to about 80,600 people worldwide, is now planning further job cuts and restructuring provisions.

Sales dropped from Fr81.8bn to Fr80.6bn and the gross dividend will fall to Fr3.60 (Fr4.50).