Revenues crossed the landmark $5billion, up 7% from the prior year, whilst profit before taxation was $861million. EPS delivered was $3.35 compared with $3.53 reported in the prior year.
The total Assets position grew by $300million (3%) and now stands at just under $10billion. During the year, the Group took advantage of its strong cash flow position to repay over $180million in higher priced debt in Q4. The benefits of this will commence in 2009.
The volatility in the financial sector was felt throughout 2008. In this connection, our Group has again taken a conservative approach and fully accounted for unrealized portfolio losses of $130million in the financial statements. These losses are non-cash and are accounted for in accordance with International Accounting Standards directives introduced subsequent to year-end, but which were applicable retroactively to 2008.
The Group’s portfolio has enabled it to withstand this event and produce strong profitability. e are vigilant and responsive to the changing market environment and remain confident that we have the right team, a robust business model and strong portfolio of brands and services.
Your Board of Directors is confident that our operating results in the future will continue to grow and have recommended a final dividend of $0.70 per ordinary share. This together with the interim dividend paid of $0.30 will bring the total dividend payable to shareholders for the year to $1.00 (2007 -$0.90).
A. NORMAN SABGA
CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE
March 27, 2009