September 30, 2008 / 1:53 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Business & Decision confirms 2008 targets

* Confirms 2008 targets

* Aims to get 80 percent of turnover from abroad by 2011

* Sees at least 10 percent growth in turnover in 2009

PARIS, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Business & Decision BDZK.PA, the French consulting firm, said that it aimed to get 80 percent of its turnover from abroad by 2011 and confirmed its 2008 targets subject to market conditions.

International growth is a priority for the group, Patrick Bensabat, chairman of Business & Decision, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

“We hope our international investments will allow us to increase turnover significantly and simultaneously increase profitability too,” said Bensabat. He added that the business model justified an increase in size.

Since the company was created in 1992 by Bensabat, it has made numerous acquisitions including, most recently, the U.S. company Inforte and Moscow-based Decision Support Systems.

Turnover increased 42 percent from 142.8 million euros ($204 million) in 2006 to 202 million euros ($289 million) in 2007 and Bensabat confirmed a 2008 turnover target of between 240 and 250 million euros ($344 to $358 million), an increase of 20 to 25 percent.

Bensabat said there was no exact forecast because of market conditions. Moreover, the company was still experiencing some problems within key overseas markets, the United States, Britain, and Germany, he said.

“In Germany and Switzerland we have had to make large investments which are affecting our profitability, while the integration of Inforte in the U.S. is difficult given the economy.”

Business & Decision issued a profit warning in August, lowering the operating margin to 2 to 2.5 percent for the first half of 2008 compared to 9.8 percent for the first half of 2007.

At the time, Bensabat attributed lower profits to the company’s international acquisitions. However he insisted on Tuesday that the forecast was positive despite a weak environment and added that turnover should grow by at least 10 to 15 percent in 2009.

The share price has fallen by 82 percent this year and Bensabat, whose family owns 37.2 percent of the capital said that Business & Decision had already initiated a share buyback programme. Moreover he said an eventual exit from the stock market was unlikely.

Business & Decision had a market capitalisation of 38.9 million euros at Monday’s closing price of 4.45 euros.

“We are looking at different scenarios but I don’t believe we will exit the stock market completely.” He said. (Reporting by Vanessa Walters and Baptiste Cordier, Editing by Paul bolding)

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