No share split for CSL

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The outgoing chair of CSL says the company is unlikely to undertake a share split given the cost and uncertain benefit.

Speaking at the company's annual general meeting, chair John Shine pointed to its strong performance in the past year, highlighted by an 11 per cent increase in revenue to US$7.9 billion and 29 per cent increase in net profit after tax to US$1.7 billion.

CSL's share price has tripled in the past five years, closing yesterday at $193, and Mr Shine said the company had been questioned on whether it had any plans to undertake a share split.

The company previously undertook a three-for-one share split in 2007 with the intention of increasing the liquidity and affordability of CSL shares for private shareholders.

However, according to Mr Shine, the "market has changed" since 2007.

"There appears to be a general recognition by shareholders that a share-split does not change the fundamental value of the company," he said.

"Despite the increase in CSL’s share price over the past 4-5 years, private investors have not been deterred from buying CSL shares, with the number of shareholders increasing from less than 100,000 to more than 150,000. Also, given the high administrative cost of conducting a share-split (upwards of a million dollars) the Board has no current plans."

Mr Shine retired at the end of yesterday's meeting, after seven years as chair and over 12 as a director, and has been succeeded by former CEO Brian McNamee.

"Over this time, CSL has evolved to become one of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies, serving patients in more than 60 countries," said Mr Shine.

"Since 2011, the company has entered 12 new countries as well as making a number of acquisitions, including a strategically important manufacturer of plasma products in China – where we have had a presence for over 20 years to become the leading supplier of imported albumin.

"In five years, we have opened 127 new plasma centres to meet unprecedented demand for our products, and made investments into emerging adjacent fields such as gene therapy with strategic acquisitions in companies such as Calimmune.

"Another major milestone in the recent years was CSL’s acquisition of Novartis’ influenza vaccine assets to create the second largest influenza vaccines business in the world. Now known as Seqirus, we are extremely pleased that the business has met its three-year turnaround plan to achieve profitability in the most recent financial year."

Mr Shine also confirmed the retirement of former global MSD executive David Anstice who has been on the CSL board since 2008.

"During this time, he has brought a strong global view to the Board and has been a strong supporter of CSL’s strategy to expand its research and development activities. His insights into the biopharmaceutical industry in the US, Europe and Asia and his background as a highly successful Australian executive in the international pharmaceutical industry has been invaluable," he said.