Operating risks

Production, products, and services

We confront potential risks in production and services with the following measures: compliance with product and manufacturing regulations is ensured by our quality management systems in accordance with the internationally recognized quality standards ISO 9001 and the corresponding internal standards as defined, for example, in our quality and work procedure manuals. Regular audits are carried out at the Group’s production sites and dialysis clinics. These audits test compliance with all regulations in all areas – from management and administration to production and clinical services and patient satisfaction. Our production facilities comply with the international “Good Manufacturing Practice” (GMP) and US “Current Good Manufacturing Practice” (cGMP) guidelines and other internationally and nationally recognized standards. Potential risks, such as those arising from the start-up of a new production site or the introduction of new technologies, are countered through careful planning, regular analysis, and continual progress reviews. We counter the risk of poor-quality purchased raw materials, semi-finished products, and components mainly by requiring that suppliers meet extensive quality standards. Besides certification by external institutes and regular supplier audits, this includes an exhaustive evaluation of advance samples and regular quality controls. We only purchase products of high quality, maximum safety, and proven suitability from qualified suppliers that conform to our specifications and standards.

Performing medical treatments on patients in our hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, and dialysis clinics presents inherent risks; in addition, operational risks, for example the need for strict hygiene and sterile conditions, can arise. We counteract these risks with strict operating procedures, continuous personnel training, and patient-oriented working procedures. Furthermore, through our quality management systems we are constantly striving to improve the standard of patient treatment.

Risks can also arise from increasing pressure on our product prices and from price increases on the procurement side. For instance, changes in the regulations concerning the reimbursement for erythropoietin (EPO) in the United States, or a change in the dosage, could have a significant impact on the revenues and earnings of Fresenius. EPO is a hormone used in dialysis that stimulates the production of red blood cells. An interruption in supply or worsening procurement conditions for EPO could also reduce revenues and significantly increase Fresenius’ costs. Fresenius Medical Care has entered into an agreement with Amgen for the supply of EPO in the United States and Puerto Rico. Amgen is the sole supplier of EPO in the United States. The agreement runs until December 31, 2011. Reimbursement and revenues from the administration of EPO accounted for approximately 7 % of total sales of the Fresenius Group in 2009.

Growing competition could adversely affect the pricing and sale of our products and services. The introduction of new products and services by competitors could make one or more of our products and services less competitive. On the procurement side, we counter risks, which mainly involve possible price increases, by appropriately selecting and working together with our suppliers through long-term framework agreements in certain purchasing segments and by bundling volumes within the Group. Generally, the markets in which we operate are characterized by price pressure, competition, and efforts to contain health care costs. These could result in lower sales and adversely affect our business, our financial position, and our results of operations.

We counter the risks associated with the engineering and hospital services business through professional project management and control, and with a proven system tailored to each business activity for identifying, evaluating, and minimizing these risks. This system consists of organizational measures (such as standards for pricing-in risks when preparing quotations, risk assessment before accepting orders, regular project controlling, and continual risk assessment updates), quality assurance measures, and financial measures, such as checking creditworthiness, repayments, letters of credit, and secured credits.

It is of special importance to us that our compliance programs and guidelines be adhered to. Through compliance we aim to meet our own expectations and those of our partners and to orient our business activities to generally accepted standards and local laws and regulations. These programs and guidelines set binding rules of conduct for our employees. We believe that we have taken adequate measures to ensure that national and international rules are complied with.

Research and development

The development of new products and therapies always carries the risk that the ultimate goal might not be achieved. Regulatory approval of new products requires comprehensive, cost-intensive preclinical and clinical studies. The Fresenius Group spreads its risk widely by conducting development activities in various product segments. We also counteract risks from research and development projects by regularly analyzing and assessing development trends and examining the progress of research projects. We also strictly comply with the legal regulations for clinical and chemical-pharmaceutical research and development. With IV drugs, it is also crucial that new products are brought to the market continually and at the right time. The product development process can be controlled on the basis of detailed project roadmaps and a tight focus on the achievement of specific milestones. If the defined targets are not achieved, counter-measures can be initiated.

Risks from the integration of acquisitions

The integration of acquisitions or potential acquisitions carries risks that can adversely affect Fresenius’ assets and liabilities, our financial position, and results of operations. Following an acquisition, the infrastructure of the acquired company must be integrated while clarifying legal questions and contractual obligations. Marketing, patient services, and logistics must also be unified. During the integration phase, key managers can leave the company and the course of ongoing business processes as well as relationships with customers can be harmed. In addition, change-of-control clauses may be claimed. The integration process may prove to be more difficult and cost-intensive or last longer than expected. Risks can arise from the operations of the newly acquired company that Fresenius regarded as insignificant or was unaware of. An acquisition may also prove to be less beneficial than initially expected. Future acquisitions may be a strain on the finances and management of our business. Moreover, as a consequence of an acquisition Fresenius may become directly or indirectly liable toward third parties or claims against third parties may turn out to be non-assertable.

Acquired by Fresenius in 2008, APP Pharmaceuticals has agreed to indemnify Abraxis BioScience, Inc., which split from it in 2007, from and after the spin-off with respect to all liabilities of the pre-separation company related to APP Pharmaceuticals’ business. At the same time, Abraxis BioScience agreed to indemnify APP Pharmaceuticals from and after the spin-off with respect to all liabilities of the pre-separation company not related to APP Pharmaceuticals’ business. The extent to which Abraxis BioScience will be able to satisfy these potential claims in future cannot be predicted.

As a result of Fresenius’ acquisition of APP Pharmaceuticals, the spin-off from Abraxis BioScience which took place in 2007 could fail to qualify as a tax-free distribution. A fiscal law assessment obtained within the scope of the acquisition confirms that the acquisition of APP Pharmaceuticals should not affect the qualification of the spin-off as a tax-free distribution in 2007. However, this opinion is not binding on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), nor does it preclude the IRS from asserting a contrary position. If, notwithstanding the opinion, the IRS were to audit the spin-off and successfully assert that the spin-off failed to qualify for the tax-free status as a result of the acquisition of APP Pharmaceuticals, this would lead to a material tax liability.

We counter risks from acquisitions through detailed integration roadmaps and strict integration and project management so that counter-measures can be initiated in good time if there are deviations from the expected development.

Personnel risks

The Company uses appropriate recruiting and personnel development measures to counteract a possible shortage of skilled personnel. We are also seeking to keep employees with the Company by introducing life work time accounts in various areas. In addition, we provide our employees with attractive fringe benefits and partly with bonuses. By using targeted personnel marketing measures to recruit a qualified and dedicated workforce, Fresenius counters the general shortage of specialized hospital personnel, thus ensuring our high standards of treatment quality. At the same time, by assisting in the training of young people, we thereby seek to commit them to the Company. For example, HELIOS keeps close contact to young doctors by intensive support already throughout their studies and during their practical year. Risks in personnel marketing are not considered to be significant because of numerous measures designed to minimize them.

Financial risks

The international operations of the Fresenius Group expose us to a variety of currency risks. In addition, the financing of the business exposes us to certain interest rate risks. We use derivative financial instruments as part of our risk management to avoid possible negative impacts of these risks. However, we limit ourselves to non-exchange traded, marketable instruments, used exclusively to hedge our operations and not for trading or speculative purposes. All transactions are conducted with banks of high rating.

The Fresenius Group’s currency and interest rate risk management are based on a policy approved by the Management Board that defines the targets, organization, and handling of the risk management processes. In particular, the guidelines assign responsibilities for risk determination, the execution of hedging transactions, and the regular reporting of risk management. These responsibilities are coordinated with the management structures in the residual business processes of the Group. Hedging transactions using derivatives are carried out solely by the Corporate Treasury Department of the Fresenius Group – apart from a few exceptions in order to adhere to foreign currency regulations – and are subject to stringent internal controls. This policy ensures that the Management Board is fully informed of all significant risks and current hedging activities.

The Fresenius Group is protected to a large extent against currency and interest rate risks. As of December 31, 2009, approximately 68 % of the Fresenius Group’s debt was protected against increases in interest rates either by fixed-rate financing arrangements or by interest rate hedges. Only 32 %, or € 2,656 million, was exposed to an interest rate risk. A sensitivity analysis shows that a rise of 0.5 % in the reference rates relevant for Fresenius would have a less than 1 % impact on Group net income.

As an international company, Fresenius is widely exposed to translation effects due to foreign exchange rate fluctuations. The exchange rate of the US dollar to the euro is of particular importance because of our extensive operations in the United States. Translation risks are not hedged. A sensitivity analysis shows that a one cent change in the exchange rate of the US dollar to the euro would have an annualized effect of about € 44 million on Group sales and about € 1 million on Group net income.

As a globally active company, we have production facilities in all the main currency areas. In our service businesses, the revenue and cost base largely coincide. The exposure to currency risks arising from our business activities (transaction risks) does not rise to the same extent as sales. In order to estimate and quantify the transaction risks from foreign currencies, the Fresenius Group considers the cash flows reasonably expected for the following three months as the relevant assessment basis for a sensitivity analysis. For this analysis, the Fresenius Group assumes that all foreign exchange rates in which the Group had unhedged positions as of reporting date would be negatively impacted by 10 %. By multiplying the calculated unhedged risk positions with this factor, the maximum possible negative impact of the foreign exchange transaction risks on the Group’s results of operations would be € 9 million. Information can be found here.

Potential financial risks that could arise from acquisitions, investments in property, plant and equipment, and in intangible assets are assessed through careful and in-depth reviews of the projects, sometimes assisted by external consultants. Goodwill and other intangible assets with an indefinite useful life carried in the Group’s consolidated balance sheet are tested for impairment each year. Further information can be found here.

By carefully assessing the creditworthiness of new customers, we minimize the risk of late payment and defaults by customers. We also conduct follow-up assessments and review credit lines on an ongoing basis. Receivables outstanding from existing customers are monitored, and the risk of defaults is assessed.

Fresenius’ debt has increased significantly as a result of the financing of the APP Pharmaceuticals acquisition in 2008, reaching € 8,299 million as of December 31, 2009. The debt could limit the ability to pay dividends, to arrange refinancing, to be in compliance with its credit covenants, or to implement corporate strategy. Other financing risks could arise for Fresenius against the background of the general financial market crisis. We reduce these risks through a high proportion of medium and long-term funding with a balanced maturity profile. Furthermore, the Group has only limited short-term funding requirements.

Government reimbursement payments

Fresenius is subject to comprehensive government regulation in nearly all countries. This is especially true in the United States and Germany. In addition, Fresenius has to comply with general rules of law, which differ from country to country. There could be far-reaching legal repercussions should Fresenius fail to comply with these laws or regulations. A large part of Group revenue derives from government reimbursement programs, such as the federal dialysis reimbursement programs in the United States under Medicare and Medicaid. Changes in the law or the reimbursement method could affect the scope of the payments for services as well as of the insurance cover. This could have a significant adverse impact on the assets and liabilities, financial position, and results of operations of the Group.

Legal risks

Risks that arise from legal disputes are continually identified, analyzed, and communicated within the Company. Companies in the health care industry are regularly exposed to actions for breach of their duties of due care, product liability, breach of warranty obligations, treatment errors, and other claims. This can result in claims for damages and costs for legal defense, regardless of whether a claim for damages is actually justified. Legal disputes can also result in inability to insure against risks of this kind at acceptable terms in future. Products from the health care industry can also be subject to recall actions and patent infringement suits.

In 2003, a definitive agreement was signed regarding the settlement of fraudulent conveyance claims and all other legal matters in connection with the National Medical Care transaction in 1996 arising from the bankruptcy of W.R. Grace. Under the settlement agreement, Fresenius Medical Care will pay a total of US$ 115 million without interest into the W.R. Grace & Co. bankruptcy estate or as otherwise directed by the court upon plan confirmation. The settlement agreement was approved by the competent court. Claims made out of court by certain private US health insurers were also settled by an agreement. Consequently, all legal issues resulting from the NMC transaction have been finally concluded subject to plan confirmation.

FMCH and its subsidiaries, including RCG (before its acquisition by Fresenius Medical Care) received subpoenas from the U.S. Department of Justice in St. Louis (Missouri) in connection with civil and criminal investigations in 2005 (RCG in August 2005). Documentation must be provided on clinical quality programs, business development activities, compensation of clinic managers, contractual relationships with doctors, joint ventures, and anemia treatment therapies, RCG’s suppliers, pharmaceutical and other services which RCG has provided for patients, RCG’s relations to companies in the pharmaceutical industry, and RCG’s procurement of dialysis machines from FMCH. The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and the Attorney General for the Eastern District of Texas confirmed their involvement in the review of the anemia management program.

In July 2007, the U.S. Attorney General filed a civil action against RCG and FMCH – in its capacity as the present holding company of RCG – before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The action claims damages and penalties in respect of the business activities of the RCG Method II supplier company in 2005 – before RCG was acquired by FMCH. Fresenius Medical Care believes that RCG’s operation of its Method II supply company was in compliance with applicable law and will defend this litigation.

In June 2009, FMCH received a subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Attorney General for the District of Massachusetts. Information must be submitted on the results of certain laboratory tests conducted from 2004 to 2009 for patients treated at FMCH dialysis centers.

Further information can be found here.

The Fresenius Group is also involved in various legal issues resulting from business operations and, although it is not possible to predict the outcome of these disputes, none is expected to have a significant adverse impact on the assets and liabilities, financial position, and results of operations of the Group.

Other risks

Other risks, such as environmental risks and risks involving management and control systems, or our IT systems, were not considered to be significant. IT risks are countered through security measures, controls, and monitoring. In addition, we counter these risks with constant investment in hardware and software as well as by improving our system know-how. Potential risks are covered by a detailed contingency plan which is continuously improved and tested. Redundant systems are maintained for all key systems such as international IT systems or communications infrastructure. A password system is in place to minimize organizational risks such as manipulation and unauthorized access. In addition, there are company guidelines regulating the granting of access authorization, and compliance with these rules is monitored. We also conduct operational and security-related audits.

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