Cognis’ Loss Narrows on Disposals

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German specialty chemicals company Cognis narrowed its net loss to 63 million euros ($85.86 million) in 2008, after divestments lowered the burden of refinancing costs, it said on Wednesday.

The private-equity controlled maker of ingredients for consumer goods shied away from providing an outlook, only saying it aims to cut 70 million euros in costs this year to counter weak demand.

Cognis hived off its plant oil and textile chemicals businesses last year to focus on ingredients for cosmetics and detergents, lowering its borrowing costs which had led to a net loss of 120 million euros in 2007.

Full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation (EBITDA) and special items edged 2.6 percent lower to 351 million euros on higher raw material costs and a decline in volume sales which started in the fourth quarter.

Permira [PERM.UL], together with co-owners Goldman Sachs Capital Partners (GS.N) and SV Life Sciences, abandoned plans to sell Cognis in 2006. The head of Permira’s German operations said in a newspaper interview earlier this year that the buyout firm will hold off on a sale of Cognis until the economic crisis passes.

Apart from making food, drug and cleaner ingredients, the company — a former division of glues and detergents maker Henkel (HNKG_p.DE) — supplies coatings, inks and lubricants.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger)