* Bright Food says acquisition largest overseas by any
* Bright Food's 2nd overseas M&A in less than year
SHANGHAI May 3 China's state-owned Bright Food
Group has agreed to buy a 60 percent stake in British cereal
firm Weetabix Food Co from private equity firm Lion Capital,
which, if completed, would be its second successful overseas
acquisition in less than a year.
The deal, which gives Weetabix an enterprise value of 1.2
billion pounds ($1.94 billion), is expected to close in the
second half of 2012 and is subject to Chinese regulatory
approval, Bright said in a statement on Thursday. Enterprise
value includes the debt of a company.
Bright Food Group did not disclose the equity value of the
deal but said it was the largest overseas acquisition made by
any Chinese food company.
Lion Capital and Weetabix's management will own the
remaining 40 percent stake, Bright Food said in an emailed
statement. Rothschild Group and Linklaters advised Bright Food
in the transaction.
Bright Food has sought to boost its profile and cater to a
rapidly growing domestic market through overseas acquisitions,
but it has failed to buy Australian firm CSR's sugar
business and French yoghurt maker Yoplait.
Last August, Bright Foods agreed to buy a 75 percent stake
in Australian branded food business Manassen Foods.
. In 2010, its unit bought a majority stake in
New Zealand's Synlait Milk Ltd.
Bright Food, which makes "White Rabbit" candy, was also
reportedly in talks to buy U.S. nutritional retailer GNC and
Britain's United Biscuits, but talks fell apart over pricing,
terms and uncertainty over regulatory approval.
"As China's leading food group, we are pleased to become the
controlling shareholder of Weetabix," Bright Food chairman Wang
Zhongnan said in the statement. "Weetabix has an excellent
product portfolio, including leading British cereal brand
Weetabix and other category-leading brands," he said.
Bright Food executives have said the company is targeting
overseas wine, sugar and dairy assets.
Bright Food has four subsidiaries listed on the Shanghai
Stock Exchange: Shanghai Jinfeng Wine Co, Shanghai
Haibo Co, Shanghai Maling Aquarius Co
and Bright Dairy & Food Co.