Nestle chairman wants to stay until 2017: paper

ZURICH Sun May 22, 2011 7:40am EDT

ZURICH (Reuters) - Nestle's (NESN.VX) chairman hopes to stay on the board until 2017 and reiterated that the food producer has until 2014 to decide on its stake in French cosmetics company L'Oreal (OREP.PA), a paper reported on Sunday.

Peter Brabeck said in an interview with SonntagsZeitung he aimed to stay on the Nestle board until the statutory limit, which was 72 years old. "I could therefore stay on the board until 2017, which is my wish," he said.

The maker of Nescafe coffee, KitKat chocolate bars and Maggi soup has begun a push into the growth market of foods with health-benefit claims, and plans to invest 500 million Swiss francs ($570 million) in its new subsidiary in the next decade.

Brabeck said he expected 10 percent annual growth for the unit.

Brabeck, asked whether the health science push was designed to position Nestle for a full bid for L'Oreal, in which it already holds 30 percent, said: "It is primarily about determining the long-term direction for Nestle. The strategic direction of Nestle will be key for how we see the L'Oreal stake then."

RISING RAW MATERIALS

Brabeck said raw materials prices were set to rise strongly.

"We can and want to improve the margins by continuously selling more high-quality products and thereby generate more value," he said. "You cannot just pass on higher raw materials prices to retailers."

Nestle could launch another share buyback, he said. "Our first priority is to invest the money sensibly in investments and acquisitions. We are looking at new possibilities there. But, on the other hand, we do not want to sit on money that we do not need. So a new round is possible."

Brabeck said further deals were possible, saying: "... we should not just think of Asia and we should not underestimate Africa," adding Nestle was set to invest 1 billion francs in Africa in the next three years to create new production sites.

(Reporting by Catherine Bosley; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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