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AGM 2012 – DISCUSSION

debat AG

Synopsis of exchanges at the meeting

What are the 2nd quarter business trends and what impact does the recent manganese controversy have on Supor sales? In addition, have you applied price increases in the 1st quarter, and what have you competitors done?

The trend seems more favorable in the 2nd quarter, which should show slight growth. The month of April was reasonable, though below expectations, but the quarter is far from over. Supor sales were no doubt affected by the disinformation campaign concerning the manganese content of its stainless steel products, recognized by the Chinese authorities as not representing a health issue. Information and wide-scale publicity campaigns were launched to counteract these effects and business is returning to normal.

Price increases were applied throughout countries in the 1st quarter and a second wave will certainly follow from July 2012. For the moment not many have followed suit but we expect certain competitors will increase prices over the coming weeks.

What percentage of Group sales is manufactured in France?

Out of all products sold in 2011, manufacturing localization is as follows:

  • Europe 37%, 35 % of which were manufactured in France
  • North America 2%
  • South America 9 %
  • China/Asia 23 %
  • products sourced mainly in China 29%.

Innovation plays a central role in Group development. How do you ensure technological monitoring, in particular with regard to nanomaterials?

Our field of investigation of new technologies is extremely vast. We have long formed partnerships with research institutes and universities like CEA (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission), CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research), INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research), Korean or Chinese universities, in various realms including nanotechnology. The creation of SEB Alliance strengthens the current framework.

With reference to Danone’s unfortunate experience in China with regard to unfair competition, can you tell me what kind of precautionary measures have been taken with regard to Supor?

There are no guarantees. First and foremost, we would like to reaffirm our partners’ high level of quality, a vital point in our business relationship. Furthermore, Supor is quoted on the Shenzhen stock market and controlling shareholders are responsible for transactions. The manganese affair, and the speed with which Chinese authorities reacted, demonstrates that having a large number of individual Chinese shareholders by our side constitutes a sound guarantee. We are also closely monitoring Supor’s management activities and we are working to ensure the protection of intellectual property rights.

Do you intend to acquire 100% of Supor? Are you sufficiently assured as to the quality of this company’s Chinese accountancy?

At the end of 2011, we increased our stake in Supor from 51% to 71% of share capital but we do not intend to rise to a 100% stake because we wish the company to remain listed in China. As such, quotation entails publication and transparency requirements that constitute a form of insurance for a foreign majority shareholder. Furthermore, we are delighted to have the Su family by our side as shareholder and on the Board of Directors. This greatly facilitates our approach with regard to the authorities and other Chinese counterparts.

Chinese accountancy abides by standards other than our own that are nonetheless reinterpreted for IFRS standards consolidation. We have unified accounting practices and implemented an internal control procedure. Furthermore, in terms of due care, our auditors review Supor’s accounts twice a year.

Do you have a foothold in Australia and are you interested in Africa? 

Indeed we have a subsidiary in Sydney and a representation office in New Zealand where our sales are growing, driven by products such as the Actifry fryer, Air force /Silence Force vacuum cleaners, and the Fresh Express multifunction shredder.

We intend to further expand our business in Sub-Saharan Africa with ambitious goals, particularly in South Africa, Nigeria, and Angola. Francophone Africa also feature in our deployment plans for the coming years.

You mentioned China in your presentation, what about your performance in Japan and South Korea?

We have long been present in Japan, where we are a leader in the cookware market, and we continue making strides in kitchen electrics, performing well in the kettle segment, holding the top spot in the market. We are also performing well in terms of blender and steam cooker sales. Japan ranks sixth in the Group’s countries. South Korea also represents an important and dynamic market. We rank second in cookware and are witnessing strong growth in the small electrical appliances market: food preparation appliances, ironing, and hair care.

The Supor name received unfavorable coverage following the manganese affair. Have you taken these events into account in your risk mapping?

The risk run by Supor can apply to any of the Group’s activities. It is, therefore, catered for in our risk mapping. Moreover, we have seized the opportunity to strengthen Supor’s crisis management process.

How many Group subsidiaries are affected by the new Grenelle Environment Forum regulation?

We are affected by the Grenelle Environment Forum on two levels. Concerning greenhouse gas assessment (article 75), five companies will be affected in 2012, which will call for internal management of the issue. With regard to social and environmental reporting (article 225), we obtained a moderate insurance report from an independent third-party body in 2012 after checking our social and environmental data.

Vote on resolutions

All of the resolutions put to the meeting were passed by a very large majority of between 88% and 99%. The meeting approved the accounts, renewed the terms of office of Thierry de La Tour d’Artaise, Philippe Lenain, Jérôme Wittlin and the company VENELLE INVESTISSEMENT. It also made the decision to distribute a cash dividend of €1.25 per share, up 6.8%

Webcast available in French