February 20, 2019 / 11:51 AM / 7 months ago

Chocolatier Godiva to sell Asian-Pacific operations to MBK Partners

(Reuters) - Godiva Chocolatier, the Belgian manufacturer of gourmet chocolates, has agreed to sell parts of its Asia-Pacific business to private equity firm MBK Partners, Godiva CEO Annie Young-Scrivner told Reuters on Wednesday.

The deal includes Godiva’s operations in Japan, South Korea and Australia, and the production facility in Belgium supplying these regions. Young-Scrivner declined to disclose deal terms, but the transaction could be worth between $1 billion and $1.5 billion, sources have previously told Reuters.

Godiva, owned by Turkey’s Yildiz Holding, will use the proceeds to finance diversification, including an expansion of its cafe business from 20 stores to more than 2,000 globally in the next six years.

“We thought of multiple ways to potentially fund our investment and what we have decided on was to go look for a buyer,” Young-Scrivner said in an interview.

The Belgian chocolate maker has mapped out plans to grow its revenues fivefold over the next six years, Young-Scrivner said.

“We’ve gone through this exercise of thinking through: we are chocolate, so what are the categories that we can expand into in chocolate, but also what pairs well with chocolate?”

“Coffee, tea are natural complements to chocolate and then we also looked into the Belgian heritage. You’ll see us expand into the bakery area as well.”

The company, which had a presence in more than 100 countries before the deal announced Wednesday, will continue to look to expand internationally, potentially into Mexico and Argentina, Young-Scrivner said.

With roots in a biscuit shop started by two brothers in Istanbul in 1944, family-owned Yildiz has grown into a global firm with western partners including Kellogg and McCormick.

It spent $850 million to buy Godiva in 2007, as well as an estimated 2 billion pounds ($2.63 billion) on McVitie’s maker United Biscuits and $221 million on DeMet’s, maker of Flipz chocolate pretzels, in 2014.

Reporting by Harry Brumpton in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish

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