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Schaeffler opens up with interim results announcement

Saddled with huge debt and in an effort to attract outside investment, German family-controlled industrial group Schaeffler has announced its first set of interim results to the outside world.

On Wednesday the group announced that sales rose 31% in the first half of 2010 to €4.6 billion.

Earnings grew at even faster rate to €739 million – up from €108 million over the same period last year – following a big turnaround in the automobile sector on which much of the group's business relies.

However, the group made an overall loss of €260 million due to a €396 million writedown connected to a rights issue at Continental, the company Schaeffler is in the process of merging with following its hostile takeover in 2008.

The takeover left the Schaefflers, led by the late founder's wife Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler and her son Georg (pictured), with over €12 billion of debt. But, the group said debt had now fallen to €5.9 billion at the end of June, representing reduction of more than €200 million compared to the end of the previous year.

Schaeffler Group CFO Klaus Rosenfeld said in a statement: "Our financing situation has eased significantly in the first half-year. We will further reduce our net financial debt in the coming few years. De-leveraging is a key priority for us."

The publication of such comparatively detailed results highlights the group's move towards courting outside investors as it attempts to further bring its financial situation under control.

Last month, the group announced it was setting up its first dedicated investor relations unit.

For 2010 as a whole, Schaeffler said it expects sales to exceed €8 billion. It also said it is planning "comprehensive investments in growth markets", including €300 million in Asia.

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