Dutch company, Akzo Nobel, is “poised for a return to growth over the next few years,” the company’s chairman, Hans Wijers, said yesterday. Although he expects 2005 to continue to be challenging, the firm is preparing to make this year a turning point for growth.

In a speech prepared for the company’s traditional New Year address to employees, Mr Wijers said that Akzo Nobel had become a “better and stronger company” over the past year. He added that the firm had outperformed its initial outlook for 2004 and had created financial room to manoeuvre through the sale of certain chemicals businesses [[02/08/04h]]. The company also revealed plans to integrate its two human pharmaceuticals businesses, Diosynth and Organon, onto one operating unit as part of plans to “fix” its beleaguered pharmaceuticals division, which has suffered at the hands of currency fluctuations and generic competition to its once top-selling antidepressant, Remeron (mirtazapine) [[01/09/04a]], [[21/10/03a]]. The company had previously said it expected 2004 results to be flat versus 2003 [[19/10/04f]].

For 2005, the company’s strategic focus will be on targeting profitable growth opportunities around the globe, but it will not be “embarking on a reckless spending spree,” Mr Wijers added. Future growth, he said, would be carefully mapped out in an effort to strengthen existing leadership positions and expand in selected markets that offer attractive investment potential.