Sika CEO on the lookout for acquisitions - Finanz und Wirtschaft

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ZURICH (Reuters) - Sika favours acquisitions rather than share buybacks as the Swiss construction chemicals maker seeks to hit annual sales of 10 billion Swiss francs ($11.11 billion), Chief Executive Paul Schuler told Swiss newspaper Finanz und Wirtschaft.

"We have scope for acquisitions," Schuler said in an interview published on Wednesday. "We do not want to buy back shares because we don't know what to do with the money. We want to grow."

Mortars was an interesting segment, Schuler said, adding the market was very fragmented at the moment.

The executive, who has led Sika since 2017, said buying companies was more difficult than usual because of travel restrictions to curb the coronavirus.

"It is delicate to have the relevant discussions virtually and without direct contact," he said. "We want to meet the people and see the factories before we invest."

Still, Sika would make a small acquisition in 2020, he said.

The company would likely post lower sales in 2020 than the 8.1 billion franc level in 2019, mainly due to the impact of the stronger Swiss franc, he reiterated.

The operating result would be similar to or slightly above last year's level, while the operating margin would rise slightly.

Sika should return to its targeted 6% to 8% organic sales growth by 2022 at the latest, Schuler said.

"Our sales growth will continue and we will reach the 10 billion franc mark relatively soon," Schuler said.

($1 = 0.8997 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Michael Shields)