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Germany's Osram hit by weak auto industry demand - CEO tells paper

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Germany's Osram hit by weak auto industry demand - CEO tells paper
'World of light' showroom of lamp manufacturer Osram is pictured during the official opening in Munich, Germany, October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle   -   Copyright  MICHAELA REHLE(Reuters)
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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German lighting company Osram <OSRn.DE> suffered a weaker-than-expected final quarter of 2018 as auto demand slowed sharply, its CEO was quoted on Thursday as saying.

“Initial data show that, for us, the last quarter was even weaker than we and many financial experts expected a few months ago,” CEO Olaf Berlien told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper in an interview.

“I see dark clouds on the horizon for 2019 — demand for light-emitting diodes is falling noticeably,” Berlien also said.

Osram, whose business year started on Oct. 1, is feeling the impact of the U.S.-China trade conflict, while Britain’s looming exit from the European Union and Italy’s fiscal woes are also weighing.

In China, a 16 percent decline in auto sales in the last three months has been painful, said Berlien, also highlighting the difficulties faced by smartphone makers Apple <AAPL.O> and Samsung Electronics <005930.KS>.

Osram was floated in 2013 by Siemens <SIEGn.DE>, the industrial conglomerate, which sold its last shares in the business in late 2017. Osram has been the subject of speculation that a strategic investor may buy a stake. Asked by the Augsburger Allgemeine about this, Berlien declined to comment.

Separately, Osram said on Wednesday evening that it would launch a share buyback worth up to 400 million euros.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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