ECONOMY

S&B considers acquisition

Mining group Silver & Baryte is planning to add one more acquisition to its stable of companies, just under a year after it failed to close a US deal. Chief Executive Efthymios Vidalis said the group has singled out «six possibilities» in Europe, the Mediterranean basin and North America. Silver & Baryte has subsidiaries, affiliates and distribution facilities stretching from Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK to Turkey, Cyprus, the USA and China. Vidalis said plans for an acquisition this year is one of the reasons fueling the group’s optimism, despite the slew of international uncertainties that is holding back global growth and forcing major companies to cut back on production and orders. He said the upbeat mood is also based on Silver & Baryte’s ambitious investment program this year of more than 22.5 million euros, or more than 10 percent of mining revenues. «This will be a year of investments in mining interests. We plan to build up our infrastructure and invest in new products,» Vidalis said. Encouraging signs from customers, manifested in the volume of sales since the beginning of the year, are also supporting the case for a strong performance this year. Silver & Baryte yesterday reported a 9.1 percent jump in pretax profits before minorities of 25 million euros in 2002 on revenues of 291.3 million euros, down 0.2 percent. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization rose 10.1 percent to 57 million euros with the EBITDA margin rising to 19.6 percent from 17.7 percent. Mining operations, which contributed 77 percent of group revenues, had an unchanged turnover of 224 million euros and a 9.4 percent rise in pretax profits to 21.4 million euros. The trading division generated sales of 67 million euros, with pretax profits increasing 9.2 percent to 4.68 million euros.