PARIS — At Mondelez International, Inc., everything is an opportunity. And in the eyes of the company’s chief financial officer, potential mergers and acquisitions are just another one of those opportunities.
“We cannot lose sight of the fact that, organically, this business has great potential,” Luca Zaramella, executive vice-president and c.f.o. of Mondelez, said during a June 11 presentation at the Deutsche Bank dbAccess Global Consumer Conference in Paris. “M.&A. will be an addition, will be an accelerator, will be additional opportunities for us.”
Mr. Zaramella said Mondelez is very disciplined when it considers possible mergers and acquisitions, and the company has an established set of elements that each target must meet. Any potential deal also must make sense financially and strategically, he said.
“We clearly stated that M.&A. for us is about opportunities of getting into new geographies, potentially, where we can get a route to market that would unlock the potential of some of our brands,” Mr. Zaramella said. “It is about going into high-growth markets. It is about getting into adjacencies and tapping more into opportunities that are premium, well-being or that provide solutions digitally, for instance.
“It is about creating even more strength in that journey we have embarked on that is leading the future of snacking.”
Mr. Zaramella said Mondelez is not necessarily looking at big, transformative acquisitions. Instead, the company is casting an eye toward bolt-on acquisitions or medium-sized investments.
“We have the levels of flexibility within the company to be able to absorb multiple mid-sized deals,” he explained. “And again, the way I like to look at cost specifically in the (joint ventures) that we have, which provide optionality, but it also provides for us the ability potentially to take some of those and to swap them into snacking opportunities that we see to grow faster.”
Two key brands that don’t necessarily fit into Mondelez’s snacking wheelhouse are Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Tang. Asked by an analyst how the two brands fit into the company’s portfolio Mr. Zaramella responded: “Look, we don't want to force-feed Philadelphia or Tang into snacking just for the sake of saying we are 100% snacking. We are 90% snacking. There are these couple of good categories, refreshment beverages, which is Tang, and what we call meals, but we might well define it as cheese and grocery, which is predominantly Philadelphia. And those are two parts of the portfolio that are not snacking. We have very clearly in our mind that, ideally, we would have 100% of snacking, but that is ideal. Ideally, when you look at both Tang and Philadelphia, those are great brands. They provide scale in the markets where we have them. They are great businesses. They provide good margins, good cash, great synergies in route to market and customer relationships.”
At this time, Mr. Zaramella said Mondelez is not considering a sale of the Philadelphia or Tang brands, though he acknowledged that anything is possible if the right value comes along. But at least for now, a divesture does not appear on the radar, he said.
“I think separating some of those businesses … would descale us, it would take away cash flow,” he said. “But also it would create a little bit of distraction for some of these businesses that are doing so great. So we have to be very careful about those businesses. And again, great brands, they provide profitability and cash flow, so we don’t feel at this point in time, it is the right time to talk about those things.”