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Toll's new CEO moves to allay fears

THE incoming chief executive at Toll Holdings, Brian Kruger, has poured cold water on speculation the company could be broken up and sold to private equity interests, and played down investor fears of the freight and logistics company's exposure to the depressed retail market.

THE incoming chief executive at Toll Holdings, Brian Kruger, has poured cold water on speculation the company could be broken up and sold to private equity interests, and played down investor fears of the freight and logistics company's exposure to the depressed retail market.

The 49-year-old, who is Toll's chief financial officer, was yesterday announced as the successor to the long-serving Paul Little, who will step down at the end of the year.

Mr Kruger said he would focus on integrating parts within Toll's six divisions, so they can work more closely and cross-sell to customers, rather than contemplate a break-up.

"The company is worth significantly more in the current structure than in a break-up," Mr Kruger told BusinessDay. "A lot of the customers we work with look for services that are provided by different parts of our business."

Mr Kruger's appointment was widely expected but had concerned some in the investment community who had hoped for an external candidate to bring fresh ideas to the company after Mr Little's 26-year reign.

But Mr Kruger, a former BHP Billiton and BlueScope Steel executive, pointed out he had only spent two years at Toll and had a wide range of financial, operational and mergers and acquisitions experience.

Analysts have voiced concern over Toll's long-term strategy, including its large exposure to the weak retail sector.

"I think to some extent that's been overdone," Mr Kruger said.

He said Toll's businesses had a much lower level of exposure to discretionary retailers than analysts thought.


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