Vehicle battery maker Varta reported group sales rose by 4% to €1,159 million in 2001 (2000: € 1,112 million), the group’s operating result before interest and taxes (EBIT) improved by 9% to €60 million (2000: €55 million) and the group’s operating return on capital increased for the sixth time in succession to reach 20%.

Parent company Varta AG recorded net earnings of €8 million compared with €12 million in the previous year.

In view of the anticipated need for high levels of capital investment in new technologies and in micro batteries in particular, an amount of €4 million representing half of the net result for the year was allocated to the reserves.

The annual general meeting decided by a large majority to use the unappropriated net earnings of €4 million to distribute a dividend of €0.20 per share.

Group sales for the first five months of 2002 rose by 8% to €458 million (previous year: €425 million). Here, the Automotive Battery Division recorded a 6% rise in sales to €235 million (2000: €221 million).

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“The increasing globalisation of our business and the further development of advanced products are presenting Varta with increasing new challenges,” said chairman Dr. Georg Prilhofer.

“We are conducting intensive negotiations with major international partners, although it is too early to report on specific results.”