Barilla Plots Bid for Weetabix

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24 Jan 2017 --- The biggest pasta maker in the world is planning a £1.5bn ($1.9bn) bid for one of the UK’s most popular cereal brands Weetabix. Weetabix, which is the UK’s second biggest cereal brand, has been courted by a number of suitors since its Chinese owner Bright Food put the brand up for sale last year.

Bright Food bought a majority stake in Weetabix nearly five years ago with the aim of transforming breakfast eating habits in China.

Barilla, a 140-year-old Italian family pasta business, is thought to be one of a number of bidders for Weetabix, which also includes the food brands Alpen and Weetos.

Nestlé, PepsiCo and General Mills have also been touted as potential bidders for the Weetabix business, which is based in Northamptonshire, in the UK.

Based in the norther Italian city of Parma, Barilla makes a range of products including pasta sauces and Swedish crisp bread.

The business is headed up by Guido Maria Barilla and his brothers Paolo and Luca, whose great-grandfather set up the business in 1877.

According to its latest finances, it made profits of €440m ($473m) and revenues of €3.3bn ($3.54bn) in 2015.

Bright Food bought its 60 percent stake in Weetabix from Lion Capital. The private equity group held on to the remaining 40 per cent stake before exiting the business in 2016.

Bright Food’s efforts to transform the eating habits of the Chinese was questioned by some, as Chinese consumers usually prefer rice-based breakfast and are not generally eaters of cereal with milk.

Bright Food said at the time of its investment in Weetabix that it was “committed” to a long-term investment in Weetabix.

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