The boss of Ferrero, the Italian chocolate maker famous for the Nutella spread, said in a rare interview Friday that the company has ambitions to become a more global player and earn most of its income outside Europe.
Rome (dpa) - Chief executive Giovanni Ferrero spoke to the La Repubblica newspaper two weeks after his company launched a 112-million-pound (173-million-dollar) friendly takeover bid of British rival Thorntons.
The Italian producers of the worlds most renowned chocolate spread, Nutella, had announced worldwide celebrations in 2014 to mark the 50th anniversary of their product.
"We need to become bigger, seek alliances, mergers," the 50-year-old said. "Businesses are concentrating because it is the only way to have the necessary resources to grow, and growth is outside Europe, where markets expand on average by 15 per cent."
Ferrero is already the world‘s third-largest chocolate maker, and its owners are the richest family in Italy. Giovanni‘s father, Michele, who died in February, was 22nd on Forbes magazine‘s 2014 billionaires list with an estimated net worth of 26.5 billion dollars.
A file picture dated 05 July 2010 shows Giovanni Ferrero (R) with his brother Pietro (L) who died on 18 April 2011 in an accident on Victoria Road near Llandudno, Cape Town, South Africa. Reports state on 20 April 2011 Giovanni Ferrero will chair the Ferrero group after the death of his elder brother Pietro, a statement from the Ferrero group informs.
"We have long been a European company," Giovanni Ferrero said. "Italy accounts for 17 per cent of our turnover. Our outlook, say for the next five years, is to become a global firm with 51 per cent of its turnover coming from outside Europe."
The manager said 75 per cent of Thorntons shareholders have so far accepted Ferrero‘s buyout offer. He also indicated that there are no plans to list Ferrero on the stock market, meaning that the company will remain family-run.
Speaking as the third-generation Ferrero at the helm of the company, the manager said family-run businesses can take a more long-term view whereas listed companies are under pressure to "worry about the next quarter‘s financial result."
Last month, Nutella was at the centre of an Italy-France spat after French Environment Minister and former presidential candidate Segolene Royal urged people to boycott it because one of its key ingredients, palm oil, is often grown in deforested areas.
Ferrero replied that it was using sustainably sourced palm oil, a claim backed by environmental groups like Greenpeace. Royal later backtracked and apologized for her remarks.
"I was a bit surprised by her faux pas. I thought she was one of our loyal customers. There are many family pictures showing [Royal] with a Nutella jar on the table," Giovanni Ferrero said, adding that France was the number one market for his company.
Other famous Ferrero products include Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs, Tic Tac mints and Ferrero Rocher pralines.
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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is scheduled to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday in an effort to boost economic cooperation, investment and trade relations between the two countries.
Greek officials are pulling out all the stops in an effort to borrow 15 billion euros (16.2 billion dollars) to avoid default, with recent feelers out to China and Russia, according to Greek media reports Saturday.
Eurozone leaders were inching early Monday towards a new bailout agreement with near-bankrupt Greece, although sources said it was tough going after the threat of a Greek "time-out" from the eurozone was used as leverage in the talks.