4 May 2012 --- Bright Food (Group) Co., Ltd., one of China’s largest food groups, and funds advised by Lion Capital LLP have announced that an agreement has been reached whereby Bright Food will acquire 60% of the share capital of The Weetabix Food Company for an Enterprise Value of £1.2bn (including company shares and debt). The remaining 40% of the shares will continue to be held by Lion and management. The transaction is subject to regulatory and government approvals in China as well as certain anti-trust approvals. Completion of the transaction is expected in the second half of 2012. No further financial details of the transaction are being announced.
Bright Food’s landmark acquisition is an exciting move by the company, signalling its entry into both the UK and global food markets through the iconic Weetabix brand. The transaction will represent the largest overseas acquisition by a Chinese company in the food and beverage sector. The purchase also supports Bright Food’s strategy of buying famous international brands, developing advanced technology and taking strong competitive positions in each of its markets. Bright Food is committed to driving the global growth and success of the Weetabix business, with a focus on the potential in Asia and especially in China, to take advantage of the growing appetite in the country for packaged and convenient healthy foods. Bright Food has extensive experience across all aspects of the food industry spanning the primary (agriculture/ farming), secondary (manufacturing of food products) and tertiary (retail and distribution) industries. In addition, it owns a number of well-known trademarks and branded products in Asia’s food processing industry. Bright Food will also offer an excellent “route-to-market” through its extensive retail platform. In 2011, Bright Food generated revenue of $12.2 billion and had an EBITDA of $1.2 billion.
Weetabix is a leading provider of cereal based foods in the UK and globally. Headquartered in Northamptonshire, UK, Weetabix exports to over 80 countries. As well as the iconic Weetabix brand, the company also manages a diverse portfolio of other leading brands with high consumer loyalty including Alpen, the No.1 UK muesli brand.
Commenting on the purchase, Zongnan Wang, Chairman of Bright Food, said: “As a leading business in China’s food industry, we are delighted to become the majority shareholder in Weetabix. This company has an excellent portfolio of brands including the famous British cereal brand, Weetabix, and also other category-leading brands such as Alpen and Ready brek. With its best in class production standards and excellent track record for innovation, the business is poised to achieve strong and sustainable long term revenue and profit growth."
“We are excited by the many growth opportunities for the business, especially in international markets, and Asia in particular. With Bright Food’s strong resources and our expertise in both the Chinese and broader international markets, we are excellently placed to develop the Weetabix business. We value the expertise of Weetabix’s management and employees and look forward to collaborating with them and Lion Capital to realise the full global potential of the Weetabix family of brands.”
Lyndon Lea, Partner of Lion Capital, said: “The acquisition of Weetabix in 2004 was the first investment of Lion Capital and launched our strategy of investing in high quality consumer brands. Over the eight years that we have owned Weetabix it has generated top-line growth that has outpaced the broader cereal market as a result of increased investment behind the brands and innovation. We are excited to continue our journey with the Weetabix brand, which has been an enormously successful investment, as we extend the business into China in partnership with Bright Food.”