Roche Annual General Meeting: dividend raised by 9 percent
Roche's Annual General Meeting has approved all the Board of Directors' proposals. The 703 shareholders in attendance, representing 144,334,099, or 90.2% of a total of 160,000,000 bearer shares, approved the 2008 Annual Report and financial statements. They also authorised a +9% increase in the dividend to 5.00 Swiss francs per share and non-voting equity. With this increase, the payout ratio rises to 49%, which means that about half of net income will be paid out to shareholders. Franz Humer, André Hoffmann and John Irving Bell were re-elected to the Board of Directors for a further three-year term of office.
This year shareholders were given a first-time opportunity to take part in a consultative vote on Roche's Remuneration Report. The report was approved with 99% of the votes represented.
Commenting on the 2008 financial year, Franz B. Humer, Chairman of the Board of Directors, said: "Last year was dominated by the global financial and economic crisis, and this remains the case in 2009. In these times of economic upheaval it is more important than ever that we adhere to our successful strategy of focusing firmly on pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, and position ourselves more strongly for the future in all areas.This extends to our decision to acquire the whole of Genentech, the primary aim of which is to bolster Roche's innovative capacity. Innovation is, and will remain, the core of our business."
Severin Schwan, CEO of the Roche Group, commented: "Roche not only continued the positive trend of recent years, it was also successful in expanding its market share. We were also able to strengthen our product pipeline as important programmes reached the final stage of clinical research. We continued to perform strongly in the first two months of 2009. Sales in both divisions grew in line with our expectations, and operating profit growth was even better than anticipated. We are accordingly very confident about the outlook for the full year."
About Roche Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world's leading research-focused healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. As the world’s biggest biotech company and an innovator of products and services for the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, the Group contributes on a broad range of fronts to improving people's health and quality of life. Roche is the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics and drugs for cancer and transplantation, and is a market leader in virology. It is also active in other major therapeutic areas such as autoimmune diseases, inflammatory and metabolic disorders and diseases of the central nervous system. In 2008 sales by the Pharmaceuticals Division totalled 36.0 billion Swiss francs, and the Diagnostics Division posted sales of 9.7 billion Swiss francs. Roche has R&D agreements and strategic alliances with numerous partners, including majority ownership interests in Genentech and Chugai, and invested over 9 billion Swiss francs in R&D in 2008. Worldwide, the Group employs about 80,000 people. Additional information is available on the Internet at www.roche.com.