Sunday 16 June 2019

Scanlon eyes Asian acquisitions as transition period for Kerry boss ends

Kerry Group ceo Edmond Scanlon said he was confident about Kerry’s growth strategy. Photo: David Conachy
Kerry Group ceo Edmond Scanlon said he was confident about Kerry’s growth strategy. Photo: David Conachy

Fearghal O'Connor - Deputy Business Editor

Kerry Group's new ceo Edmond Scanlon is eyeing a range of potential acquisition targets in developing markets, particularly Asia.

Kerry spent up to €500m on seven acquisitions during 2017 but Scanlon said the pace of acquisitions could increase even further.

"The ambition is there and we've a good pipeline," he said as part of a wide-ranging interview in the Sunday Independent - his first since taking up his new role in October. He said 2017 was "a pretty busy year but the ambition would be that we will be quite acquisitive in the next phase."

"Are we generating the cash? Yes. Can we leverage our balance sheet? Yes. Do we have the support of our investment community, our shareholders and our board? Yes. Is the ambition there within the organisation that we believe we have the capability to make acquisitions? Yes. The controllables are controlled. We feel good about it but these are hard things to predict," he said.

The company acquired two Chinese companies during 2017 but has an appetite for more deals in the region.

"We'd certainly like to do more acquisitions in Asia," said Scanlon, who ran Kerry's operation in Asia before taking over as CEO from Stan McCarthy. "We're set up and have the capability to do more but it's hard to influence the timing of it."

Scanlon is confident about Kerry's growth strategy for the next five years: "There's lots of things happening, lots of consolidation, lots of change, therefore there's a lot of opportunities."

McCarthy stepped down from the Kerry board at the end of December, ending a period of transition. Scanlon vowed to continue the steady growth that has characterised Kerry since it was originally founded as a co-op for dairy farmers.

"Our game is long term - not big bang, next week, next month. This organisation has continuously performed well and that's something that's not going to change under my watch."

Sunday Indo Business

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