French sugar maker Cristal Union, Europe's fourth-largest sugar group, reported an annual net loss on low sugar prices and exceptional costs but was confident for the current season as it benefits from a rebound on the European market.
Cristal Union recorded a loss of €89 million in its 2019/20 year to 31 January, compared to a net loss of €99 million in the 2018/19 fiscal year. Revenue fell 6% to €1.6 billion.
The group said a large part of the loss was linked to the closure of two sugar factories in France, which led to exceptional costs of €61 million.
However, Cristal Union's adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to €63 million in 2019/20 from €10 million the previous year, including EBITDA of €45 million in the last quarter, it said.
Chief executive Alain Commissaire had already expressed his optimism in late February when he said higher sugar prices, improving prospects for ethanol demand and a restructuring had brightened the group's outlook for the coming year.
Commissaire told reporters he expected EBITDA to rise to between €160 and €200 million in 2020/21.
The group, which gathers 9,000 members, is studying the need for consolidation in the European sugar market in which it could potentially take part, he said.
"Contacts can be multiple but in any case they are serious. We will comment when there will be something concrete, which I hope will come soon," Commissaire said.
Asked whether French competitor Tereos had made an offer to take over part of the plant in Toury, south of Paris, Commissaire said no offer had been made during the legal bidding period and that the factory would be dismantled next month.