15 February 2000
Hydro loses 197m on fertiliser
By Vicky Houchin
THE agricultural arm of Norsk Hydro has announced losses of 154 million in 1999 – with fertiliser making an operating loss of 197.5m.
In preliminary results released this week, Hydro blamed its loss on restructuring charges of 73.8m in Europe and costs of 65.3m related to workforce reductions and losses on contracts.
In the fourth quarter of 1999, fertiliser had an operating loss of 149.1m, including 73.8m in restructuring costs and 31.1m in other non-recurring items.
Executive vice president Thorleif Enger said the nitrogen fertiliser market had been extremely weak over the past three years, but stressed he hoped it had now reached rock bottom.
Hydro believes there is about 3m tonnes of over-capacity in nitrate production in Europe due to increased regulation of fertiliser use.
“This in itself represents a great challenge for the industry,” said Mr Enger.
He said the company had some ambitious goals to reduce fixed costs including the loss of 1200 staff by the end of the year.
A spokeswoman for Hydro Agri UK and Ireland told Farmers Weekly that redundancies within the UK could not be ruled out.
“With the company taking 1m tonnes of nitrate out every nitrate factory is under threat.”
If Immingham was to go UK jobs would be lost, although she was unable to comment on the rising speculation until an announcement is made next month.
“I hope its not here but, if it is, jobs would be lost.”