Profits drop to €19.9m at Coillte amid 'challenging conditions'
STATE forestry company Coillte said profits slumped by more than a third last year, as the business dealt with pension charges and "challenging trading conditions".
For the year to the end of 2011, Coillte said it made a profit after tax of €19.9m, compared with €32.2m a year earlier.
At an operating level, profits were down just under €5m at €41.5m.
The company said most of the drop was due to a one-off charge of €8.4m relating to pension costs.
Company chief executive David Gunning received a pay packet of €411,000 during the year, down €62,000 year-on-year.
He said the results proved the company had successfully adjusted to be an export-led, "sustainable" business.
"We have successfully targeted export markets and, working closely with our sawmill customers, have transformed the timber sector in Ireland from a position five years ago where 10pc of sawmill output was exported, to today where over 60pc of Irish timber is exported, primarily to the UK, but also to other international markets," he said.
The firm also confirmed it would pay a €2m interim dividend for 2012 to its shareholders, on top of the €10m it paid to the Exchequer last year.
The company cut its staff marginally during the year, but staff costs rose by close to €1m.
Coillte's harvesting rights are earmarked to be sold by the Government, and Mr Gunning said his business was "actively engaged" with shareholders and the NewEra unit of the NTMA -- which is advising the Government on state assets -- in relation to the potential sale of the company or certain assets.
"The continued low levels of economic growth in Europe present challenges for Coillte, but the medium-term outlook for the company is positive and it is now well positioned to take advantage of new business opportunities," he added.