* Write-downs reflect economic uncertainties
* Impairment taken for 2008 accounts
* Dividend proposal unaffected by move
* Q4 EBITDA above Q3 as expected
* Shares gain
(Adds details, background)
FRANKFURT, Feb 3 (Reuters) - German drug wholesaler Celesio CLSGn.DE wrote down the book value of some of its European pharmacies by 287 million euros ($369.1 million) to reflect higher business risks, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Fundamental growth drivers of the markets that Celesio operates in remain intact,” Chief Executive Fritz Oesterle said, adding that the company was taking economic uncertainties into account by carrying out the impairment.
The move will affect 2008 figures, but will not weigh on Celesio’s annual dividend proposal because the projected payout ratio of 30 percent is based on earnings before writedowns, the company said.
The pharmacies affected by the revision represent about 20 percent of the company’s total drug retail sales of 3.6 billion euros, it said.
Regardless of the charge, fourth-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were clearly above the 168 million euros posted in the third quarter, meeting its goal, the company said.
The affected outlets based in the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and Italy are an “essential” part of Celesio’s investments in pharmacies abroad, it said.
The impairment, which had no effect on cash-flow, is equivalent to about 10 percent of the value of Celesio’s intangible assets, which includes goodwill on acquired pharmacies, of 3 billion euros as per Sept. 30, its financial statements show.
Its shares rose 1.8 percent to 16.80 euros by 0913 GMT versus a 0.4 percent increase in Germany’s midcap MDax index MDAXI.
Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Sharon Lindores