Bright Food, which is one of China’s largest food groups, has made a commitment to investing in the long-term development of the Northamptonshire-based breakfast cereal company and the global growth of its brands, especially in Asia.
There is increasing consumer interest in packaged and convenient healthy foods in China, which will be a target market.
The acquisition will include Weetabix shareholding and debt. Private equity firm Lion Capital will retain a remaining minority shareholding in Weetabix, after selling 60% of the share capital to Bright Food. Lion capital acquired Weetabix in 2004. Completion of the transaction is expected in the second half of 2012.
The move marks Bright Food’s entry into both the UK and global food markets. 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 has interests across the food industry, from agriculture to manufacture and retail. It owns a number of well-known trademarks and branded products in Asia’s food processing industry. In 2011, Bright Food generated revenue of $12.2bn and had earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $1.2bn.
Weetabix, whose products include brands such as Alpen muesli and Ready brek alongside its famous Weetabix cereal brand, exports to over 80 countries.
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 … 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.”