Chinese Owned Bright Food buys 60% stake in Weetabix
International - The Shanghai-based firm Bright Food Group has bought a 60% stake in the British cereal firm Weetabix. The remaining 40% share is to be kept by private equity owner Lion Capital.
The Chief Executive of Weetabix has said that the focus of the company will now be on expanding the growth of the business internationally as well as strengthening the current position in the market in the UK. The trademark cereal of the company, Weetabix accounts for 7% of UK sales, which amounts to £101m annually. Weetabix is also the parent company of Alpen and Ready Brek and has a large fan base in the UK.
The company was founded in 1932 and The Latimer Group Limited, incorporated by Lion Capital, bought the Northamptonshire-based company in 2004. Since then Weetabix has continually brought out new products, including Weetos Meteors, Chocolate Weetabix and Oaty Bars and is currently exported to 80 countries. Weetabix has been a household name for over 70 years and is marketed as wholesome fun for the whole family.
The Bright Food Group has four subsidiaries: Shanghai Haibo Co, Shanghai Jinfeng Wine Co, Bright Dairy & Food Co and Shanghai Maling Aquarius Co. The Chairman Zongnan Wang has said that he is pleased to have the majority share in Weetabix and is in an excellent position to help develop the business.
The deal has been described as the most substantial acquisition made by a Chinese company in the food and drink business and is estimated to have valued the company at £1.2bn. If it goes ahead this will be Bright Food’s second overseas acquisition in a year. Executives at the company have said that the next step will be targeting overseas sugar, dairy and wine assets. The deal should be completed by the end of 2012 as it is still subject to regulatory approval in China.