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Esko takes a strong start in 2006

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Press release from the issuing company

Gent (Belgium), May 30, 2006 – Esko, the world leader in packaging pre-production solutions, announces a strong performance in the first quarter of 2006. Consolidated net revenues increased by 20%, and EBIT was up by 1.5 Mio Euro compared to the first quarter of 2005. The first quarter of 2006 saw all product lines continue their performance above expectations. The strongest sales increases were noted for software (+28% compared to last year) and CAM table (+41% compared to last year). Esko’s Cyrel Digital Imager (CDI) product line grew by 15% and maintained a global market share in excess of 70%. All regions contributed to the revenue increase, with North America and Japan growing by 25% and 40% respectively compared to last year. In addition to the EBIT increase, a reduction of the net working capital at the end of the first quarter (by more then 20% compared to the same period last year) contributed to a healthy cash flow situation. “We are very happy to see our solid business growth in 2005 confirmed right from the start of 2006,” comments Carsten Knudsen, President and CEO. “Our strategic vision for offering integrated solutions to the packaging supply chain has been confirmed by analysts and customers throughout the world, and the many new products and services Esko introduced over the last six months are clearly met with great enthusiasm by both existing customers and new prospects. New orders and selling cycles are up, and we have all reasons to believe that we will exceed our growth targets for the full year 2006.” Product introductions in the software and CAM areas Following the first public showing at the IPEX exhibition of Scope 3, the latest version of Esko’s suite of pre-production software tools, the full commercial roll-out to customers has started. With Scope 3 customers can enjoy full support for Adobe PDF 1.6 and JDF 1.3, and further integration with Adobe Creative Suite 2.0 software on Mac and PC versions. The additional tools to further integrate CAD and graphics, the expanded asset and project management capabilities offered by WebCenter’s most recent version, and the spectacular 3-dX technology previewed at IPEX were also the stars at the annual meeting of Esko’s AEG and AUGI User Associations in Tampa, FL – the largest edition ever, with over 350 customers attending six parallel tracks of training, demo, information and planning sessions. In the samplemaking and digital converting area, Esko introduced the XE10 cutting and creasing table, targeted at folding carton, signmaking and display making users together with its i-XE10 twin version. Companies having or adding roll-fed or flatbed digital printing systems have shown a particular interest for these advanced and flexible prototyping and converting solutions. Kurt Demeuleneere appointed CFO Esko announces the appointment of Kurt Demeuleneere as Chief Financial Officer, replacing Carsten Knudsen who became President and CEO after Esko’s ownership transitioned to Axcel. Kurt has a background in economics and throughout his career built up a sound experience in different financial areas. Before joining Esko Graphics, he has been working for Siemens, first as Finance Director for the telecommunications division, responsible for Africa and the Middle East. Later he became Head of Corporate Finance in The Netherlands, responsible for mergers and acquisitions as well as the finance and strategy process. Before this Kurt has been working with a number of American companies and was employed as a business consultant with Ernst&Young. New appointment to the Board of Directors Esko welcomes Raf Decaluwé as a new independent Director to its Board. Raf Decaluwé is Chairman of the Board of Laundry Systems Group (LSG), the worldwide market leader in commercial and heavy-duty laundry systems, since 2002. He is the former CEO of Bekaert, the world’s largest steel wire producer, where he has been overseeing the company's shift away from materials for radial tires to thin metal panels, fibers, and film coatings. Prior to his 16 years at Bekaert, of which the last 8 years as CEO, Mr. Decaluwé held senior positions at Black & Decker and Fisher Price Toys. He is a Board member in different companies, throughout the world. “With Mr. Decaluwé’s appointment, we have now completed the new Board for Esko-Graphics”, says Chairman Jean-Claude Deschamps. “This strong team brings together years of valuable experience in dynamic high-tech businesses, and will be a great asset for Esko to drive and inspire its strategic development.”




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