CSL 'hard work' on local focus
CSL chief executive Paul Perreault says the blood plasma company "worked hard" to ensure its Australian operations made sense.
"It's all about scale and efficiency, so if you have a subscale business, then your costs go up," Mr Perreault told reporters after CSL's annual meeting in Melbourne on Wednesday.
"And the Australian dollar, the way that it was, doesn't help the Australian business as well. When it was at 75 or 80 US cents, the business looked better. But costs go up. We have pressures on pricing."
CSL has just finished building a biotechnology plant in Melbourne, and another is on the way.
CSL employs 1800 staff in Australia out of 12,000 globally, and when it announced the expansion it said the plants would employ an additional 300 people.
It is now reporting in US dollars, because the bulk of its profits are made overseas.
A shareholder who was pleased to report he had picked up shares in the company's initial public offering sought reassurance that CSL would remain an Australian company. The chairman, John Shine, said CSL would "very much" remain one, but must be internationally focused.
CSL announced on Wednesday there would be another share buyback - this time $950 million over 12 months - and noted that a recent legal settlement in the US would cut growth in net profit to 7 per cent from 10 per cent.
The settlement, yet to be approved by the US courts, will result in a one-off charge of $US39 million.
It related to allegations that CSL had conspired with its major competitor in the US, Baxter International, to push up the prices of blood plasma from as long ago as the 1990s.
CSL said the settlement was not an admission of guilt and that the case was without merit, but it had decided to settle to remove a major distraction and further costs.
A vote to deliver an estimated $9.3 million in benefits to former chief executive Brian McNamee was passed by shareholders. Australian Shareholders Association representative Don Hyatt said the "not inconsiderable" payment to the long-serving boss was appropriate given that CSL had grown 100 per cent since 1994.
Shares in CSL closed 1.6 per cent, or $1.02, higher at $66.40.