2016 was an encouraging year during which we grew revenues and improved ourprofitability.
We achieved a significant milestone of crossing Rs 10000 million in sales revenue toRs 10139 million as compared with Rs 9256 million in the previous year a growth of9.5%. Our net profits increased to Rs 668 million 62% higherthan the previous year. Thisgrowth was achieved despite several challenges and volatility faced during the year. Westreamlined operations and have taken steps to become a more agile company.
Based on our healthy cash flows the Board recommends a total dividend of 60% ascompared to 50% in the previous year.
Our Crop Protection division grew by 15% from Rs 3561 million to Rs 4087 million.Sales of our existing products continued to grow in volumes. We launched several newproducts during the year which will add revenues and increase profitability in the yearsto come. A large contract manufacturing project for a leading innovator client wascompleted and the product has been successfully commercialized. We expect volumes to growin the near future and contribute to incremental business as a result of the successfulimplementation of this complex project. Our diversification into biocides and specialtychemicals will yield new opportunities while we continue to add value through our ownproduct portfolio under development. Our Pharmaceutical division grew by 6% from Rs 5692million to Rs 6052 million. Though there has been an erosion in prices of some of ourmajor products we continue to build volumes of existing products while focusing on costimprovements through technology and scale. We will continue to drive growth through thedevelopment of our new product portfolio. We are investing in expanding capacity to launchnew products while we debottleneck our existing plants to meet increased demand from ourclients both existing and new.
On the regulatory front we are delighted with the outcome of the recent US Food andDrug Administration inspection which resulted in zero 483's at our primary activepharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing facility at Bengaluru. It reflects our focuson compliance quality and integrity. Our commitment to maintaining the best standardsfrom a quality and regulatory perspective will result in increased opportunities for thePharmaceuticals division results of which we are already experiencing. Several newclients are approaching us based on our track record of delivery and compliance valuesand technical capabilities.
As part of our continued efforts to strengthen the balance sheet we have divested ourproperty in Bengaluru which was lying vacant and the sale proceeds have been transferredto reserves thereby further improving the cash flow and the net worth of the company. Wehave been able to maintain our earnings before interest tax depreciation andamortization (EBITDA) margin at 20% by process improvements and operational excellenceinitiatives. Our debt / equity ratio has further improved to 0.81 as compared with 0.89last year and we have successfully brought down the overall cost of our borrowings. Wehave made further improvements in reducing our working capital and will continue ourefforts in the coming year. Our ICRA credit rating was upgraded to BBB+ this year and weexpect a further improvement in the current year.
Our Research & Technology Division was awarded the prestigious Acharya P.C. RayAward for the successful development and commercialization of innovative technology foranew product. Innovation and sustainability are key pillars of our strategy to delivercustomized solutions to our global clients. We have strengthened and expanded our R&Dcapabilities across the company. Thisyear we filed fourdrug master files (DMFs) and twocertificates of suitability (CEPs). Client acceptance and interest for our productscontinue to be positive and we expect to launch a number of new products in the comingyear.
We are focusing on quality and compliance to meet the US FDA EU and other globalregulatory authority requirements. We are also investing in training to enhance our workculture.
Our Corporate Social Responsibility initiative Srijan across our sites is creatingvalue for our business and society by improving the health environment andsustainability of operations at our locations. These programs are directly enriching thelives of our colleagues and communities in which we operate.
Our strategy is to achieve growth balanced with our responsibility to the environmentand society. We have set the company on a course of sustainable growth built on robustclient relationships trust and transparency technology and innovation and high-qualitymanufacturing. We remain committed to delivering on our long-term value proposition to ourstakeholders.
I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to our employees clientsbankers shareholders and other partners for their confidence and support.
We look forward to a successful 2017.
Chairman and Managing Director