Purchase of own shares

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At the last annual general meeting, shareholder authority was obtained for the company to purchase its own shares up to a maximum of 10% of the number of shares in issue on 31 March 2003 for a period ending on the earlier of the next annual general meeting or 30 October 2004, provided that certain conditions (which relate to the purchase) are met. Under the conditions of the Employee Benefit Trust, details of which are provided in the report on directors’ remuneration, shares in the company may also be purchased.

The notice of annual general meeting proposes that shareholders approve a resolution updating and renewing this authority.

The company did not repurchase any of its shares during the year.

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