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Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. said Wednesday its consolidated pretax profit for fiscal 2000 dropped 17.8 percent to 71.5 billion yen, mainly due to sluggish sales in Europe and the yen’s strong performance against the euro.

Group operating profit for the 12 months to March came to 81.6 billion yen, down 10.6 percent from the previous year, with sales totaling 1.311 trillion yen, down 1.4 percent.

Group net profit dived 27.8 percent to 22.6 billion yen, as the firm posted an extraordinary loss of 44.52 billion yen to cover shortfalls in retirement benefits, the company said.

The fall in the value of the euro against the yen caused foreign exchange losses to the company, which also took a beating from slower European automobile sales, Fuji Heavy said.

Although sales in the North American vehicle market fared well, they failed to outpace the impact of the shrinking European market and slower sales at the machinery maker’s nonauto sections.

Fuji Heavy, affiliated with General Motors Corp. of the United States, said it will promote Kyoji Takenaka, 54, to president and chief operating officer in late June upon approval at the shareholders’ meeting.

Takenaka is operating officer in charge of corporate planning and alliance promotions. President Takeshi Tanaka, 65, will become chairman and remain chief executive officer.

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