SOLVAY: Increase of first quarter results 2004

Paris, FRANCE


BRUSSELS, France, April 29, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- Solvay:

- Stable sales and net income of the Group up by 20%

- Major positive impact of agreement with Wyeth in the Pharmaceuticals Sector (bifeprunox)

- Application filed for registration of cilansetron in the United Kingdom

- Marked upturn in specialty polymers and vinyls businesses

- Declining results of the Chemicals Sector

Solvay Group sales for the first quarter of 2004 were EUR 1,877 million,down 2% from the first quarter of 2003. At constant exchange rates, they would have increased by 2%.

The net income of the Group amounted to EUR 117 million, up 20% from the first quarter of 2003 (EUR 98 million). This improvement, despite persistence of a strong Euro and a difficult economic situation in the first three months of 2004, was principally the result of the major financial impact of the agreement concluded with Wyeth by the Pharmaceuticals Sector, in particular the registering of a signing fee in the first quarter of 2004 but also after recording additional research expenditures, required to accelerate development of psychiatriccompounds included in this agreement. Results from the Plastics Sector improved greatly over the last few months, due to the upturn in the demand for specialty polymers and vinyls.

The lack of visible growth in Europe again weighed on results from the Chemicals Sector. However, the economic background for the Chemicals Sector is improving. The Group is pursuing a series of restructuring and cost-reduction measures.

During the 1st quarter 2004, results of our activities improved progressively. For all of 2004, improvement in the economic situation and the important contribution of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties products, combined with the significant efforts at increasing competitiveness, should enable the Solvay Group to cope withthe pressure.

To view the full press release along with all financial tables please visit the following link:

http://www.solvay.com/static/wma/doc/1/9/9/8/Solvay_Results_Q1_04.doc

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