Nestle to divest underperforming businesses

Food giant to sell assets as part of ongoing company-wide review.

Nestlé will divest underperforming businesses as part of its ongoing product-and-brand review, Chief Executive Paul Bulcke told shareholders.

At Nestlé's annual meeting in Lausanne, Mr Bulcke said that the Swiss food giant, which is confronting slowest growth in four years, would have to "do more with less" in the future. However, he said Nestlé would accelerate investments in faster-growing businesses, such as its Purina pet care and Dolce Gusto coffee divisions.

"We are looking at our product and brand portfolio and analysing it through a sharper, stricter lens," Mr Bulcke said. "We are making choices about where we want to invest, where we want to improve and areas we want to divest."

Nestlé, based in the Swiss town of Vevey, has already slowed the pace of its capital expenditures. In 2013, the company spent 4.9 billion Swiss francs ($6bn) on its factories and facilities, down 9.3 per cent from 5.4 billion Swiss francs in 2012.

Like many food manufacturers, Nestlé has struggled with a slowdown in emerging markets, including China, and feeble growth rates in developed markets. Mr Bulcke conceded that the maker of KitKat chocolate bars had endured a difficult 2013, missing a widely-watched sales growth target of between 5 and 6 per cent for the first time since the economic crisis of 2009.

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