Marel sells food, dairy division

 Marel Food Systems on Thursday reached an agreement with Dutch investor Nimbus on the sale of the Food and Dairy Systems division of Stork Food Systems.

The sale excludes the division's Spain operations. The sale is part of the company's strategy to focus on the profitability and organic growth of its core business centering on the fish, meat, poultry and further processing segments of the food-processing industry.

"Marel's strategy since the merger with Stork Food Systems in May 2008 has been to increase the focus on the company's core business," said Theo Hoen, CEO. "The operations of Stork Food & Dairy Systems fall outside that framework and the unit has therefore been defined as a non-core business."

The assets sold are impaired, leading to a loss of EUR 16.4 million (USD 22.4 million), mainly due to the write off of goodwill and revalued assets, which has been included in the 2009 accounts.

Marel also released its 2009 fourth quarter and overall financial results, including core business revenues of EUR 434.8 million (USD 593.5 million), down from EUR 548.1 million (USD 748 million) in 2008.

In 2009, the company reduced its operational costs by EUR 25 million (USD 34 million) and reduced its debt to EUR 295 million (USD 403 million), down from EUR 379 million (USD 517 million) in 2008.

The company's fourth-quarter revenues totaled EUR 112.5 million (USD 153.6 million), down from EUR 121.4 million (USD 165.8 million) the previous year.

"A year of transformation and cost-cutting is behind. I believe that the company is in much better shape today than a year ago. We have made good progress in sharpening the company's strategic direction," said Hoen. "The integration of Marel and Stork proceeded extremely well in the second half of 2009. The positive effects of cost savings and cross-selling will be significant and will further materialize during the course of 2010. Profitability and cash flow have improved. We are a stronger company after having lowered our cost base while preserving our investment in R&D. In addition, leverage has been reduced."

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