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New 10 million euro Weleda share issue from GLS Bank

05.04.2005 - NNA Nachrichten

Investors will once again be able to acquire shares in the German Weleda AG from GLS Bank until the end of this year. The Weleda Fund II, whose terms were jointly presented in Bochum on Monday  by the GLS Bank and Weleda AG, totals 10 million euros (£6.9m, US$12.9m).

GLS spokesperson Thomas Jorberg stressed to journalists in Bochum that shares issued in the first Weleda Fund in 1998 had, in the view of subscribers, developed “wholly positively”. Applicants for the new share issue will be guaranteed a fixed interest rate of 3.5 percent, enhanced by additional, profit-related interest of anything up to 5 percent, depending on the company’s profits.

Weleda in Schwäbisch Gmünd in Germany intends to use this money to modernise its medicine production in order to meet European standards. Plans include construction of a new processing facility for plants and modernisation of the ampoule section.

Jorberg expressed the hope that many Weleda customers would buy shares in the Weleda Fund II. This was after all, he said, a “sensible investment with an attractive rate of interest”. The Weleda Fund, he went on, would fit very well in the range of ethical investment opportunities offered by the bank.

According to Jorberg, shares worth a million euros have already been purchased in the first two weeks following the issue. “Share applicants have responded swiftly,” he said. The minimum investment is 2,000 euros (£1,370, US$2,570).

Return on Fund shares is determined by the operating result of the international Weleda Group as a whole, whose head office is in Arlesheim, Switzerland. The term is envisaged as ten years, but shares can be sold before this date since they are transferable. According to the bank, shareholder liability is in practice restricted to the amount invested.

Weleda AG press officer Susi Lotz stated that this form of capital procurement aims primarily to nurture the company’s links with customers. “We don’t wish to become dependent on anyone,” stressed Lotz.

In Schwäbisch Gmünd, Mathieu van den Hoogenband, chair of the Weleda Group management, highlighted the good prospects of success. “Seventy percent of the population want natural remedies. This offers considerable growth potential, also outside the German market,” Weleda AG commented in a statement.  

The company is represented in 25 European countries, North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand.

Weleda AG Schwäbisch Gmünd has been able to chalk up very positive operating results in recent years despite restrictions affecting natural medicines. Pre-tax profits rose from 2.8 million euros (£1.9m, US$3.6m) in 2000 to 6.4 million (£4.4m, US$8.2) in 2004. In the past five years overall turnover has risen by an average of four percent.

The field of natural cosmetics has proven a driving force in the Group’s growth, with growth rates of over ten percent breaking through the two-figure threshold. Loss of turnover from natural medicines due to restrictions in German health insurance funding has evidently been less dramatic than had at first been feared.

Expressed in figures, this meant that sales of the cancer medicine Iscador were down 13 percent and other medicines were down six percent, Lotz said in Bochum. In the area of self-medication, however, a sales increase of six percent had been achieved.

This, she stressed, reflected the great expertise which Weleda AG had acquired through the decades in the field of individual therapy, and preventive medicine or salutogenesis. Money from the newly issued Fund will also support Weleda AG’s new pharmacy concept, which allows individual preparation of small quantities of medicines.

Weleda AG is world leader in the production of medicines for anthroposophical treatment and holistic cosmetics, and employs 620 staff in Germany. According to Weleda’s press office, medicines account for around a third of sales. A total of 6,000 medicines are on the market, of which only 85 require prescription.

Weleda AG’s cosmetics department comprises 90 products, of which the most successful recently have been birch cellulite oil and the sun cream based on edelweiss. As best-selling natural cosmetic product, birch cellulite oil was selected as “best-seller of the year” at the BioFach in Nuremberg, the largest trade fair for organic products in the world.