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Esko Gears Up For Another Successful Year

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Press release from the issuing company

Gent (Belgium), April 4, 2006 – Esko, the global market leader in packaging pre-production solutions, announces its final results for 2005 which show a solid continuation of its growth in both revenues and profitability. All product lines and sales regions have contributed to these performance increases. In addition, Esko reports the appointment of three new members to its Board of Directors, adding significant industry knowledge and experience to its strategic decision making process. Solid growth of the packaging business in 2005 Net revenues for the year 2005 totaled 116.6 million euro, a growth of 15% over 2004. All of Esko’s product lines enjoyed increased sales, with Kongsberg CAM tables and Scope workflow servers having the highest growth rates. Business advanced in all sales regions, with Asia and North America being the strongest performers. “In 2005, we have maintained our leading market share in digital flexo, and saw a remarkable business development in short-run converting and signmaking areas”, adds Carsten Knudsen, Esko’s President and CEO. “Unit shipments of Kongsberg cutting and creasing tables increased by more than 50% compared to the year before. We also enjoyed a rapid market penetration with Scope, our integrated pre-production software suite: not only specialized tradeshops, but increasingly converters and consumer product companies (CPCs) broadly adopt Scope components for their graphic and structural design work and workflow automation projects.” Converters accounted for 58% of all system sales in 2005, with 40% going to tradeshops and 2% to CPCs and retailers. Software products and the associated application support represented 35% of sales, with 65% for hardware products and related services. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) for the year ended at 7.8 million euro, or 6.7% of net sales. About 9% of net sales was invested in the development of new products. A solid start in 2006 “2005 brought us a marked increase of revenues and an improved operational efficiency”, continues Carsten Knudsen. “I am happy to report that we have started 2006 along the same lines, with net revenues for the first quarter that are expected to be 16% over the same period in 2005.” Esko firmly continues on its strategy focusing at serving all packaging supply chain partners with value-adding solutions and services. At the upcoming IPEX exhibition in Birmingham, UK, Esko will introduce Scope 3, the latest version of its suite of pre-production software tools. Scope 3 offers full support for Adobe PDF 1.6 and is JDF 1.3 enabled, and offers even more than before direct integration with the popular Adobe Creative Suite 2.0 (Mac and PC versions). A special highlight will be the demonstration of 3-dX, a new and patented technology that radically transforms packaging design into a real three-dimensional interactive creative process. The 3-dX plug-in for Adobe Illustrator automatically maintains a live link between 3-D design visualization and the unfolded 2-D structure, thus allowing the designer to explore and enhance a package by virtually holding and manipulating it. New appointments to the Board of Directors Esko welcomes three new independent Directors to its Board. J. André de Barrios Teixeira is Chairman and Partner of BBL Partners LLC, a consulting and trading company specializing in the food and food ingredient industry, and founding partner of eemPOK, a management consulting firm in Belgium. Mr. Teixeira served as Vice President, Global Innovation and Development, of global brewer InBev (formerly Interbrew) during 2003 and 2004, and President / General Manager of Coca-Cola for the Russia, Ukraine and Belarus region from 1998 to 2001. Since beginning with Coca-Cola in 1978, Mr. Teixeira has managed research and development in Coca-Cola’s Latin American, Pacific and Greater Europe Groups, having also served in their headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and served as managing director of Coca-Cola Services in Brussels, where he was responsible for all product, packaging, distribution and production technologies, and sales equipment development for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Klaus Holse Andersen currently is Vice President for Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners (SMS&P) and Microsoft Business Solutions for Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). In this role, Andersen defines the strategy and is responsible for the overall performance of these business units since end 2004. He also oversees the Microsoft Development Centre in Copenhagen. Mr. Andersen joined Microsoft in 2001 as General Manager for Microsoft Denmark, and was promoted to EMEA Vice President for Northern Europe in 2003. Before joining Microsoft, Mr. Andersen was the CEO of Internet Ventures Scandinavia and of LIC Energy, today Energy Solutions International Inc. Mr. Andersen also spent 12 years at Oracle Corp, five of which in the US, rising to the position of Senior Vice President for Education. Karl Kristian Hvidt Nielsen is President and CEO for Brüel & Kjær, a world leading manufacturer and supplier of sound and vibration solutions for the automotive, aerospace, consumer goods and telecommunications industries, as well as national government agencies. With Brüel & Kjær since 1998, he previously was Director Business Development and Vice President R&D and Marketing. From 1996 to 1998, Mr. Hvidt Nielsen was Director R&D, Service and Product Management with Dan Net A/S, at the time a part of TDC A/S, the leading provider of communications solutions in Denmark. Dan Net offers interoperator billing services to more than 150 telecommunications operators worldwide, and has a significant EDI and eBusiness integration division. Mr. Hvidt Nielsen started his career in 1978 at I-Data International A/S, a company developing print management and Internet connectivity and security solutions. “Together with leading Danish private equity provider and Esko-Graphics’ owner Axcel, I am very pleased to welcome André Teixeira, Klaus Holse Andersen and Karl Kristian Hvidt Nielsen as Directors”, says Jean-Claude Deschamps, Chairman of Esko’s Board of Directors. “These three new members bring a wealth of insight and hands-on experience in the consumer goods, software and high-tech industries – each excellent sources for business strategies and inspiration to help drive Esko’s future development.” Completing the Board of Esko-Graphics are Vilhelm Hahn-Petersen, Deputy Chairman and Partner in Axcel, and Christian Frigast, nominee-member and Managing Director of Axcel, both appointed earlier.




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