Billionaire activist investor Daniel Loeb's Third Point LLC hedge fund has taken $3.5 billion stake in Nestlé. The stake amounts to about 1.25% of swiss company's shares. The hedge fund is proposing Nestlé set a formal profit margin target of 18-20 per cent by 2020, boost its debt to buy back shares, put up for sale non-core products in its portfolio, and sell its 23 per cent stake in cosmetic maker L’Oréal, a stake with a market value of about $27 billion. Nestle’s current operating margin is about 15 per cent. Nestlé did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
Nestle has acquired a minority stake in US online meal-kit service Freshly, the latest investment a packaged food major has made in the category. The world's largest food maker did not disclose the size of stake it has bought in Freshly but said it was "the lead investor in the $77mln round of new funding" that was announced by Freshly on Monday.
The country's Court of Appeal ruled that the chocolate treat, created in 1935 and marketed with the slogan "Have a Break, Have a KitKat", is not distinctive enough in shape to warrant a trademark. Nestle had argued that the shape of the famous snack was iconic and deserved protection. The ruling is the latest twist in a decade-long UK chocolate wars saga between Nestle and the US Mondelez International, maker of Cadbury chocolate. Nestlé originally registered the three-dimensional shape of its four-fingered chocolate bar in 2006 with Cadbury applying to cancel the registration, a claim it won in 2012.
Food group Nestle has confirmed it aims to grow underlying sales by 2-4% this year after growth slowed in the first quarter, hit by weak consumer demand for packaged foods and a deflationary environment. Underlying "organic" sales growth at the maker of Buitoni pasta and Maggi soups slowed to 2.3 percent in the first quarter, from 3.9 percent in the year-ago period that included one more trading day and an earlier Easter, the group based in Vevey on Lake Geneva said in a statement on Thursday. This was in line with forecasts in a Reuters poll. Consumer goods groups face challenges as increasingly health-conscious consumers often prefer fresh produce to packaged foods.
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