* Beiersdorf says uncertainties in China, Europe remain
* CEO Heidenreich says satisfied with first quarter
* Shareholders criticise share sale by Heidenreich's wife
(Adds more comments from CEO, shareholders on share sale)
HAMBURG, Germany, April 18 Germany's Beiersdorf
said its Nivea brand stole business away from rivals
in a tough Chinese market for the first time in years in 2012.
Chief Executive Stefan Heidenreich predicted Beiersdorf
would post further market share gains around the world this year
and said the group still aimed to improve 2013 sales and
earnings from a year earlier.
Beiersdorf sees group sales outperforming the market this
year, while its margin on earnings before interest and tax
(EBIT) will improve from 12.2 percent posted for 2012.
"We are satisfied with the first quarter, although
uncertainties in China and Europe remain," Heidenreich told
Reuters ahead of addressing shareholders at the group's annual
Heidenreich, whose no-nonsense management style was
reflected in the brevity of his 13 minute speech, said that
there was more work ahead for Nivea in China. The brand is
seeking to improve the popularity of its products there, which
include face creams, deodorant and suntan lotion.
Heidenreich has implemented a turnaround at Beiersdorf,
putting the focus back on its core Nivea brand and coming up
with new products, such as Nivea Invisible Black & White
deodorant, and La Prairie Skin Caviar liquid Lift, in order to
win back market share.
While Heidenreich won praise for achieving faster than
expected results from the programme, known as the Blue Agenda,
shareholders tackled him over a sale of shares by his wife in
She had purchased shares in April 2012 after her husband
took the CEO role, and sold them after a 33 percent rise in the
share price, making a gain of almost 2 million euros ($2.61
"It was a bad signal to the market in the middle of the Blue
Agenda to carry out such a large transaction. False conclusions
could be drawn from it," said Steffen Kraus from shareholder
rights group DSW to applause from the 800 shareholders present.
Heidenreich did not respond to the comment. Supervisory
board chairman Reinhard Poellath said that the transaction was a
matter for Ellen-Brigitta Heidenreich. "But it was clearly a
good decision to buy the shares at that point," he said.
($1 = 0.7668 euros)
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan and Jan Schwartz; Editing by Maria
Sheahan and Elaine Hardcastle)