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I extend my gratitude to all of you for believing in the 'Power of 1' and supporting us through the year gone by. I am pleased to report that despite a challenging environment, your company has managed to deliver strong growth and is well positioned to meet the changing trends in the Indian market.
Even though India's economic growth has slowed down, there is no cause for gloom. The GDP growth rate is higher than most countries around the world and the long term potential of the country is intact. Having said that, the slowdown in overall economic growth, in general, and industrial production in particular, coupled with high inflation has had a negative impact on the paints industry.
Until the economy turns around, we have to navigate tumultuous times, while at the same time, using this period as an opportunity to invest in growth. This has been the guiding principle of Akzo Nobel India's operations in the year gone by and also in the current one.
Over the last four years and with the integration which was completed last year, Akzo Nobel India today offers a solution for every coating need, be it for decorative purposes or for industrial needs. Last year was all about synergy; benefits from which are visible across our businesses, and the coming year will be about execution excellence and operational efficiency. The merger has enabled us to invest in growth initiatives across manufacturing capacity, brand building, sales and distribution. Your Board has been able to recommend a special dividend of Rs 60 per share this year over and above the normal dividend of Rs 20 per share. Let me reiterate that your company continues to adhere to the highest standards of corporate governance and that it has well–established procedures for internal controls.
The future is exciting and we are gearing ourselves to leverage the opportunities it presents.
Nihal Kaviratne CBE