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Nestle CEO says won't revise targets, leaves board move open – paper

December 14, 2015
Food & Drink

(Reuters) – Nestle could leave Switzerland if limits on pay and immigration restrict its staffing choices but continues to invest in the country, chief executive Paul Bulcke said in an interview published on Saturday.

He also told newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung the world’s largest packaged food company would not revise its growth targets despite a tough market environment and said he would not automatically step up to chairman when the seat becomes vacant.

Bulcke cited referendum votes last year and in 2013 to set immigration quotas and limit executive pay as threats to the business environment in Switzerland, but said the failure of similar initiatives since suggested that “wisdom is returning”.

“Should it become difficult to bring specialists into the country, then we will have to go somewhere, where this flexibility still exists,” Bulcke said in the interview.

He said Nestle would not revise its medium to long-term growth targets down from the current 5–6 percent target range.

“Within a weak economic environment, at 5 percent, we’ve grown better than the market,” Bulcke said.

“If we were to revise the goal downward, then (our performance) would certainly also move down … The important thing is that we grow faster than the others and outperform them through our strong innovation. That’s what we strive for.”

Asked if he would succeed his predecessor as CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe when the 71-year-old retires as Nestle chairman in 2017, Bulcke said: “Nothing is automatic.”

“It’s an advantage for someone who knows the company to take over leadership. But that’s not enough,” the Belgian native told NZZ, referring to the chairmanship and CEO positions.

“We’re open and have repeatedly recruited from outside the company in recent times.”

(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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