NETHERLANDS: Wessanen Announces Acquisition of European Market Leader in Natural Foods
The Executive Board of Koninklijke Wessanen, the international food group, yesterday announced that it had reached an agreement with main shareholders of the French Distriborg Group to acquire 51% of Distriborg's shares at Eur 77 per share. Wessanen intends to launch a tender offer at the same price for the remaining shares, which are quoted on the Paris "second marche" stock exchange. The total purchase price for 100% of the shares will amount to Eur 115 million. Wessanen will also assume Eur 35 million of Distriborg's debts. With expected sales of Eur 250 million in 2000, Distriborg is the leading European marketer of natural and specialty foods(1). Products of the group are sold to both supermarket chains and health food shops. With this acquisition, Wessanen will participate in one of the fastest growing segments of the food industry in Europe. It complements the company's efforts to become a major global player in natural and specialty foods. Wessanen is already present in this segment through it's subsidiary Tree of Life, the leading US player with expected sales of Eur 1.8 billion in 2000. There will be a perfect fit between the activities of Distriborg and Tree of Life because of complementary markets and combining the marketing and distribution expertise in the natural and specialty foods market. This acquisition will be consolidated as of August and is expected to make a modest immediate contribution to the earnings per share of Wessanen. The transaction is expected to be completed in October. Wessanen will finance this acquisition via the available credit facilities. The growth strategy of Wessanen places priority on the expansion of natural and specialty foods activities, which form a major and attractive fast growing niche in the global food market. It firmly believes that the consumer trends towards increased attention to health and wellness and the high demand for individualized products offer tremendous added value opportunities.
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