Sibelco remains confident in its position regarding the Swenters claim

Following the recent press articles in some Belgian media, published as from January 6, 2024, Sibelco wishes to clarify the facts in the Swenters claim.

  • Sibelco owns and operates silica sand quarries in Limburg Maasland since the 1960s. Today our Maasmechelen production represents less than 1% of the Group revenue and produces high grade silica for applications such as glass, construction and polymers industries.
  • In the 1980s, Sibelco entered into a joint venture for the extraction of gravel with several gravel extraction enterprises, one of which belonged to the father of Mr. Ivo Swenters.
  • Below the gravel laid a layer of silica sand. At that time the regional development plan “Maasland” did not allow access to that silica sand. Since the other parties to the joint venture being small gravel extraction companies, had no interest in a potential future sand exploitation, it was agreed between the parties that the sand exploitation, if it ever were to be authorized, would be reserved to Sibelco which had a sophisticated sand processing plant in another nearby area.
  • Contracts for the extraction of these resources were awarded by the Flemish Authorities (Provinciale Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij Limburg – GOM/POM).
  • Many years after the Swenters family left the joint venture, Mr. Ivo Swenters initiated several proceedings, starting as from 2008, against various Sibelco companies and other parties claiming compensation for alleged breach of contract, unjust enrichment and various alleged violations of competition law.
  • Over the years and up to today, no claims on the merits from Mr. Swenters have ever been accepted by Belgian courts or the European Commission.
  • In 2023, Mr. Swenters appealed to the Court of Justice of the European Union against the decision of the European Commission rejecting his request to investigate alleged competition law violations by Sibelco and others. This is a case between Mr. Swenters and the European Commission, Sibelco is not a party to that case.
  • There is only one remaining case against Sibelco. The Cour de Cassation/Hof van Cassatie ruled in 2022 that one claim had to be rejudged based on a procedural error made by the Court of Appeal of Antwerp. That case is now pending in the Court of Appeal of Ghent and will come for oral pleadings in November 2024.
  • It is only in front of the court of Appeal of Ghent, that Mr. Swenters has filed in March 2023 for the first time, a damage claim for 3.22 billion euros.
  • The claim of Mr. Swenters has been part of the yearly financial review by Sibelco and the lawyers representing Sibelco (Monard Law), including for the review of the December 31, 2022 financial statements. 
  • Based on the yearly assessment of the chances of success of the claims, it was concluded by management and the lawyers, that chances of success of the claims were remote and a contingency was not deemed necessary.
  • This was confirmed by EY Bedrijfsrevisoren BV, the auditors of the company, in respect of the December 31, 2022 financial statements as part of the respons given to a shareholder’s question during the Annual General Meeting of April 19, 2023 when Sibelco’s 2022 financial statements were approved. 
  • This is the reason why the Swenters claim was not the subject of a specific disclosure in the annual report to shareholders.
  • Again, the review of the latest brief filed by Mr. Swenters in the only pending case in front of the Court of Appeal of Ghent, concluded that Mr. Swenters’ arguments are very weak, his justifications for claiming damages unfounded and the chances of success of his claims are remote. 

These are the facts and Sibelco’s Board of Directors and Management are confident that all cases will ultimately be dismissed. We will continue to strongly defend the case and will respond to Mr. Ivo Swenters’ allegations and misrepresentations of the facts in court.

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