10 November 2006

Bekaert repositions advanced materials and coatings to further reinforce its growth strategy

In pursuit of the company’s long-term strategy for sustainable profitable growth, the Board of Directors of Bekaert has decided to reorganize the management of its activities in advanced coatings (industrial coatings and specialized films) and advanced materials (fiber technologies, combustion technologies and composites). By doing so, Bekaert will accelerate the development of the company’s technological leadership, strengthening its market leadership. This repositioning will also contribute to even more efficient process management.


Accelerated development of technological leadership

Bekaert has decided to sharpen its focus in the field of technology and innovation, primarily in those areas where the unique combination of metal transformation and coating technologies enables the development of products and services with a higher added value for the customer.

The industrial coatings activity platform will therefore be added under the responsibility of Dominique Neerinck, Chief Technology Officer, who will become a member of the Bekaert Group Executive. By better streamlining its efforts in R&D and coordinating them more closely with the market’s needs within this platform, the company will be able to manage resources more efficiently and create synergies more easily. Bekaert firmly believes this will place it in a strong position to take advantage of new opportunities for growth.

In specialized films, Bekaert has the technology and production capacity to achieve sustainable organic growth, driven by the significant market potential. Given the specifics of this market, this activity platform will maintain a distinct organizational structure and will henceforth report to Bruno Humblet, Group Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

In order to obtain maximum leverage from Bekaert’s know-how in the area of operational excellence and quality and manage the internal value chain as a more efficient whole, the fiber technologies, combustion technologies and composites activity platforms will be added to the responsibilities of Henri-Jean Velge, Group Executive Vice President.

After consultation with the Board of Directors, Georges Brys has decided to relinquish his mandate and move on to new career challenges outside the company.

The responsibilities of Marc Vandecasteele and Henri-Jean Velge, both Group Executive Vice Presidents, for the advanced wire products segment remain unchanged. The company will be further expanding its product portfolio and facilitating synergies to create added value through the most advanced technologies, working together with its customers around the world.

Striving for worldwide market leadership continues unabated

Bekaert strives for worldwide market leadership by responding optimally to the most important market developments. The company constantly aligns its production capacity to market demand in order to consolidate its position. Bekaert’s position in the strongly growing markets of Asia is supported by substantial investment programs.

Positioning Bekaert for the future

Following the announcement of the decision, Bert De Graeve, CEO, commented: ‘We thank Georges Brys for his dedication and contribution to Bekaert’s development over the years and wish him all the best in his future career.

I am convinced that the repositioning of these activities within Bekaert will give us a headstart as we face the future. In the context of the rapidly evolving market conditions, we will continue to pursue our long-term strategy, achieving growth through our unique combination of core competences. With this renewed focus, we are better equipped to further strengthen our position both as market and technological leader in the various segments in which we are active.’

This organizational change is effective immediately and has no impact on the company’s financial reporting structure.