CHAMP Private Equity and Manassen Foods Australia (MFA) announced today (12 April) that they intend to capitalise a new company, Food Holdings Pty, which will trade as Manassen Foods.

Manassen Foods will own MFA, which includes such brands as Laughing Cow and Babybel cheeses, Mrs Fields Cookies and McVities Biscuits, the Great Southern Foods group, which supplies pro-biotic drinks, and brands such as Wokka Noodles, King Oscar, which manufactures canned fish, and Hutchinsons (NZ), that manufactures brands including Sharwoods Indian Cuisine, Port Salut Cheese and Lurpak Butter. The cost of the acquisitions has not been released.

The combined entity will be Australia's leading speciality branded food supplier, with total group revenue in excess of AUD$250m (US$182.49m) per annum.

MFA chairman, Roy Manassen, said: "Our aim at Manassen Foods is to double revenue within three years to AUD$500m. Using the original MFA business as a base, we will work with CHAMP to establish a major diverse food company, supplying leading brands, growing organically, and pursuing expansion through acquisition of further complementary businesses.

"We at Manassen are in the brand building business and our new company will pursue this approach with vigour. We will continue to seek out new product development opportunities for our company owned brands and be at the forefront of innovation. We will also remain focused on developing our local and international brand portfolios and strive to ensure that Australia and New Zealand are "first to market" with new and exciting food trends. We will also seek to develop in the food service channels."

CHAMP will own approximately 51% of the new company and Manassen will be the next single largest shareholder. Phillip Jones from MFA will continue as an executive director and retain significant equity. The existing MFA management team will continue running the expanded enterprise. Manassen Foods has appointed Michael Bracka as CEO to commence in early June.

"We are fortunate that we already have the right people in place to run the operations so for customers and suppliers it will be business as usual," said CHAMP director Cameron Buchanan.  "The difference is the company now has an even stronger balance sheet and we intend to use that strength to aggressively seek bolt-on acquisitions which offer synergies to the group.

"The acquisitions announced today set the platform for future growth," Buchanan said. "Several possible add-on acquisitions have already been identified and negotiations are progressing. We consider that in three years when we have achieved our objective in doubling the business, Manassen Foods will be a most attractive prospect for an IPO," he added.