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Group Chairman Mr Gera flanked by outgoing Group CEO Mr Farrugia, and incoming Group CEO Mr Aquilina at the 63rd Annual General Meeting of Simonds Farsons Cisk plc

Farsons Group improved its profitability during 2009 as a result of a number of remedial measures by the Group that helped mitigate the ongoing recessional factors and the difficult economic environment. This was stated by Mr Louis A Farrugia, during his last address as Group CEO to shareholders at the 63rd Annual General Meeting of Simonds Farsons Cisk plc.

Although relinquishing responsibilities for the day-to-day running of the Group, Mr Farrugia shall continue in an oversight role and take an active part in determining the Group’s strategies. He will continue in his role as Chairman of the Group Executive Board, while Mr Bryan A Gera will retain his position as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Mr Farrugia, who will also remain responsible for the new €14 million Brewhouse project, updated shareholders on the latest developments and announced that an agreement for the Brewhouse equipment has just been signed with Krones AG, which is the leading company in this sector. Construction is expected to commence in July 2010 while planned completion is in 2012.

Referring to the recent €15 million 2017-2020 6% unsecured bond offer, which was closed within minutes due to oversubscription, Mr Farrugia said: “The response of investors is a clear signal of the support which Farsons continues to enjoy and a vote of confidence in our brands and future prospects.”  The allocation process is now concluded.

Mr Norman Aquilina, who will be appointed Chief Executive on 1st July 2010, said: “Our EBITDA (Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) was the highest in the past five years, registering an improvement of more than €2 million over the previous financial year and reaching €10.2 million.  The gearing ratio, that is, the ratio of debt on equity and debt at the year end, stood at 31.4%. This is also an improvement over the previous year’s 34.8% and the lowest in the last five years.”

During his overview of 2009, Mr Aquilina said that Farsons’ export sales almost doubled and reached record levels in terms of volume and profitability. Today, Farsons is exporting to 12 countries in Europe, North America, North Africa and Australia, while Cisk Lager is now also available in China.

“With determination, professionalism and courage, during 2010 we will further refine our business model to make it even more dynamic and resilient, and further increase Farsons Group’s profitability,” said Mr Aquilina.

When Mr Gera addressed the shareholders, he thanked Mr Farrugia for his 31 year service as Group Chief Executive. The Group Chairman said that Group’s turnover reached 65.1 million. Group profit before tax amounted to €3.2 million.   

Finally, Mr Gera thanked all Farsons Group directors, the entire management and staff at the brewery and subsidiaries for their dedication and commitment and all the shareholders for their trust in the Farsons Group.

The Annual General Meeting approved the Board’s recommendation of a final dividend of €1,500,000.  An interim dividend of €300,000 had already been paid in October 2009.

During an Extraordinary General Meeting, held immediately after the Annual General Meeting, a number of proposed amendments to Memorandum and Articles of Association were also approved.