CSL still growth-focused: Perreault

Group's new chief reiterates group's commitment to growth post-McNamee.

CSL Ltd's newly-installed chief executive officer Paul Perreault has insisted the end of his predecessor Brian McNamee's 23-year term leading CSL will not mark the end of the group's run of aggressive growth as well.

However, in an interview with Business Spectator's KGB, Mr Perreault suggested CSL could pursue growth in different avenues, such as taking products long-established in one region and expanding them to other parts of the world, rather than through an aggressive company acquisition strategy.

In explaining how he differed from Mr McNamee, Mr Perreault said his expertise is based on “taking that footprint and optimising it”, but cautioned such an approach does not mean reduced growth for the company.

“Not at all,” he said.

“My job now is to really take the company to that next step and it means that there are plenty of growth opportunities. In fact I think we're still underdeveloped in our developed countries.”

He cited the United States in particular as a market where some CSL products, including products introduced by companies CSL later acquired, are not nearly as well established, if established at all, as in Europe, Asia or, in some cases, Australia.

He cited the recent introduction of Kcentra, a product that treats coagulation in bleeding, to the US market.

“That product has been available in Europe for 20 years, it's been available in Australia for the last 15 years,” Mr Perreault said.

“But it's never been in the US.”

He added that there are a number of products and innovations developed by CSL-acquired Aventis Behring that have been long established in that company's native Germany, but have yet to be expanded elsewhere.

But he warned that the process of growth through expanding existing product lines takes time.

“The issue is you have to do the clinical trials, so in the US in order to get this approved it took seven years to finish this clinic trial to get this product approved,” he said.

“These things don't happen overnight.”

In discussing the potential for CSL establishing a position in the field of stem cells and stem cell research, Mr Perreault said CSL would be cautious on its approach to sectors in which it has little internal expertise, and doubly cautious about acquiring companies in a sector for the sake of co-opting external expertise.

“You can acquire, but what are you acquiring and why?” he said.

“You have to have somebody internally that understands the CSL DNA and understands what we think is going to add value to the system and if we don't have those people, you can acquire people, but a lot of times you're acquiring people that already have the biases.

“So, you think about when people do acquisitions, look at how and why they do acquisitions.

“It's usually done from a position of weakness, not from a position of strength.

“If you have a strong strategy then you can be a bit choosier about the value you're paying and what you're acquiring.”