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Solvay sees profits grow by 25%


Chemical and pharmaceuticals company Solvay has revealed that its fourth-quarter net profits jumped by 25% as medicine sales increased despite the weak dollar.

The Belgian-based group, which employs 29,000 people in 50 countries, said that net profit in the three months to the end of December increased to $266m from $213.5m a year ago.

Sales in the fourth quarter were $3.45bn, up just 1%, but the company added that they would have increased by 4% if the US dollar had not fallen so sharply during the period.

Solvay said that profits were also hit by US wholesalers selling off drug inventories instead of ordering directly from the company, which led to a loss of about $51m, and high research and development expenses.

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Chemicals also performed well as strong demand for caustic soda, minerals and oxygen offset weakness in fluorine chemicals used in a wide variety of industrial processes.

For all of 2007, Solvay posted a profit of $1.2bn, which is 1% above the previous year, while total sales were $14bn, up 2% from 2006.

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