March 26, 2018 / 10:12 AM / 2 years ago

Amplifon targets deals in Germany, France, Canada, set to enter China

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian hearing aid maker Amplifon (AMPF.MI) is targeting acquisitions in Germany, France and Canada and plans to enter the Chinese market by the end of the year with one or two joint-ventures, its chief executive said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO - Enrico Vita, Chief Executive Officer of the world's largest retailer of hearing aids, Italy's Amplifon poses during an interview with Reuters in Milan, Italy July 28, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Bendeich

Amplifon, which controls around 10 percent of the fragmented global market, faces challenges from smaller competitors such as Switzerland-based Sonova Holding (SOON.S) and William Demant WDH.CO of Denmark.

“The business plan does not envisage transformational deals but the group will be ready to pursue bigger targets”, Chief Executive Enrico Vita said during a call on its new 2018-20 business plan.

The group has a war chest of 480 million euros ($594 million) for investments and acquisitions to 2020, he added.

Amplifon said it plans to reach a core profit margin of 18.5 percent at the end of a new 2018-20 business plan.

Vita ruled out selling Amplifon’s UK business, which has been through a restructuring in recent years.

The company’s dividend payout policy is expected to be “at the very least” sustainable in the future, he said.

Amplifon proposed to pay shareholders 0.11 euros per share on 2017 results, a 57 percent increase on the previous year.

Its shares were trading up 0.15 percent at 0955 GMT, compared with a 0.2 percent fall in Milan's all-share index .FTITLMS.

($1 = 0.8078 euros)

Reporting by Massimo Gaia, writing by Maria Pia Quaglia; Editing by Alexander Smith

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