Belfast Telegraph

Kerry Group eyes up new acquisitions in markets such as Asia

By Fearghal O'Connor

The new boss of Kerry Group, the owner of Coleraine Cheddar, is eyeing potential acquisition targets in developing markets, particularly Asia.

Kerry spent up to €500m (£444m) on seven acquisitions during 2017, but Edmond Scanlon said the pace of acquisitions could increase even further.

"The ambition is there and we've a good pipeline," the CEO said, adding that 2017 was "a pretty busy year but the ambition would be there 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," he said.

"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."

The firm 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 Mr 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."

Mr 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," he said.

Mr McCarthy stepped down from the board in December to end a period of transition.

Kerry Group owns six facilities here, including Dairy Produce Packers, makers of the popular cheese brand Coleraine Cheddar, and Henry Denny & Sons.

Belfast Telegraph

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