Chief Executive's review for 2014
"At Raisio, the year 2014 was twofold. Weak performance at the beginning of the year was exceptional but we were able to correct the situation quickly during the second half of 2014. In the last two quarters, Raisio reached higher EBIT than in the comparative periods, which shows that we are back on improving trend. Raisio is one of the few Finnish companies that have been able to improve profitability from the comparison period in almost every quarter for the past eight years.
The Benecol business acquisition from the affiliates of Johnson & Johnson completed in November 2014 was a good and important deal for Raisio. Furthermore, EV/EBITDA multiple was in line with the target level Raisio has set on acquisitions. The Benecol business acquisition in the UK, Ireland and Belgium as well as the amended US-related agreement strongly support the growth strategy of Raisio's branded business. In terms of Benecol products, Raisio's long-term strategic goal is to enhance competitiveness in the existing markets, to expand into new markets as well as to innovate new products. Through the arrangement now completed, we have an opportunity to develop the Benecol business on our own terms, for the first time since 1997.
In December, Raisio renewed the Brands Division's organisation to better meet the objectives set for the Group's growth phase concerning, for example, improvement of profitability and organic growth. We aim to make clearly better use of the synergies between our branded operations and to enable growth. Cereals and Snacks businesses in the UK and Northern Europe have been combined into a single entity, which allows us to use the best expertise available to tackle thechallenges related to the UK's cereal business. In addition, all Benecol businesses have been combined into one entity, which enhances innovation and improves results.
Raisioagro has completed an extensive reorganisation of activities with a focus on cattle and fish feeds, grain trade and online store. Raisioagro aims to be the leading operator in the agricultural sectors where success is based on feeding and plant cultivation expertise and on innovations. Innovations improving the effectiveness and profitability in agriculture and fish farming are in the core of Raisioagro's new strategy.
The international commercialisation of Benemilk is proceeding as planned. We continue our commercial negotiations with several partner candidates in Asia, Europe, Oceania and North America. Some of the partners have conducted their own production tests and commissioned feeding trials from external research institutes, which has extended negotiations as the analysis of results of each test easily takes several months. According to the best current estimate, the first Benemilk launches could take place already 2015."