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Volkswagen's 2003 net profit drops 57%

Volkswagen Group has announced 2003 an operating profit down 62% to €1.78bn and net profit down 57% to 1.12bn. It has cut its dividend for the first time in a decade.

The figures reflect exceptional charges of €711m: Before these, operating profit of €2.49bn dropped 47.7% on 2002, on turnover that rose marginally, by 0.2% to 87.153bn. Vehicle sales volume grew 3.7% to 5.015m. VW spent a lot of cash on restructuring in Brazil, and on new model development, including the new Golf, the Touran and the new Audi A6. It also faced strong competition in both Europe and the US, and exports suffered from the strengthening Euro. The year also saw VW's appeal against an EC fine for anti-competitive activity dismissed by the European Court, with five years' interest added to the original fine.

German media suggest last year's results and the reduced dividend place added pressure on chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder to deliver his first good news to shareholders. He meanwhile led an ACEA delegation to the EC this week to ask for less regulation and more support for European auto industry competitiveness.

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