Annual Accounts for 1999

The Board of Directors of Orkla ASA approved the group's annual accounts for 1999 on 8 March 2000. The accounts are identical with the preliminary results for 1999, published on 10 February 2000.

Outlook for 2000
So far in 2000, the sustained growth of the US economy continues to influence the global economy and international capital markets. In spite of interest rate hikes, the underlying climate for growth in the USA, coupled with optimism in both Asia and Europe, provide the basis for continued economic growth in 2000. The stock market will continue to focus strongly on mergers and restructuring activities in general, as well as on new technologies.

No significant changes are expected in the market-related operating parameters of Orkla’s Nordic branded consumer goods businesses. Challenges arising from growing integration as regards both operations and ownership in the Nordic grocery trade will be addressed within the framework of our Nordic business system. We expect to see continued stimuli for growth in the Swedish and Finnish economies, while the situation in Norway is more uncertain. The improvement programmes currently being implemented in the Group’s business areas are expected to achieve the beneficial effects that were planned.

The beverages business in Eastern Europe (Baltic Beverages Holding) continued to achieve strong growth in 1999. Orkla expects volume growth to continue in 2000, though possibly at a lower rate than in recent years. Competition is expected to increase somewhat.

In the Chemicals area, there is reason to believe that overall profit performance will be slightly more positive in the coming year, although profit improvement may be distributed unevenly between the four-month periods.