Aventis announced today that an agreement has been reached to settle lawsuits pending in certain U.S. District Courts alleging that Rhone-Poulenc Animal Nutrition, the former animal nutrition business of Aventis, and other companies engaged in concerted pricing practices in the market for the animal feed methionine in violation of federal antitrust laws.
The plaintiffs are approximately 60 companies that had purchased methionine directly from Rhone-Poulenc Animal Nutrition and other defendants in the U.S. from 1985-2000. The plaintiff companies had opted out of a class-action settlement that had been reached between the class plaintiffs and the defendants in 2002. The settlement agreement provides for payments from Aventis to the plaintiffs aggregating approximately $178 million.
Aventis does not expect this settlement to affect its current earnings, as the amount had been previously provisioned. The cash outflow related to this settlement had been anticipated in the expected cash flow for 2003 related to the non-core businesses. On a full-year basis, the cash outflow related to anticipated non-core litigation settlements is expected to be more than offset by cash proceeds from divestitures of remaining non-core businesses.
This settlement will resolve all remaining claims against Aventis and Rhone-Poulenc Animal Nutrition by direct purchasers of methionine in the U.S. that were subject to lawsuits pending in the U.S. By settling, neither Aventis nor Rhone-Poulenc Animal Nutrition admitted any liability.
The animal nutrition business formerly conducted by Rhone-Poulenc Animal Nutrition was sold to CVC Capital Partners in 2002. Under the terms of the sale, Aventis agreed to retain liabilities relating to this matter.
In 2002, Aventis generated sales of euro 17.6 billion, invested euro 3.1 billion in research and development and employed approximately 71,000 people in its core business. Aventis corporate headquarters are in Strasbourg, France. For more information, please visit: www.aventis.com