Bright Food is set to buy 75% of Manassen Foods

Bright Food is set to buy 75% of Manassen Foods

Bright Food, the Chinese food group, has sealed a deal to buy 75% of Australian food manufacturer and importer Manassen Foods.

The agreement, announced last night (17 August), is Bright Food's biggest foray outside China. The transaction remains subject to the approval of regulators including Australia's foreign investment watchdog.

Financial details were not disclosed but sources had told Reuters that a deal would value Manassen at over A$500m (US$523m).

Last year, Bright Food snapped up a majority stake in New Zealand dairy firm Synlait Milk but it has also failed with a number of high-profile attempts to expand overseas.

The company was reportedly interested in buying a 50% stake in yoghurt maker Yoplait that was eventually sold to General Mills in May.

Last year, Bright Food's bid to buy Australian sugar refiner Sucrogen, while it was also reportedly in talks to buy United Biscuits but talks were said to have broken down.

Bright Food chairman Wang Zongnan said the state-backed Chinese firm and Manassen expected to achieve "synergies" through the deal.

Wang said the two sides would look to give Manassen's "high-quality Australian products and iconic Australian brands direct access to the Chinese market". He added that Bright Food could use Manassen's distribution network to sell its own "high-quality products and brands" into China.

Manassen sells its own brands including dairy products under The Margaret River Dairy Company label. It also distributes products for the likes of Premier Foods plc, Associated British Foods, Arla Foods and Groupe Bel.

The remaining 25% of Manassen will be owned by its current shareholders, including Roy Manassen, whose father started the business in 1952. Funds advised by Champ Private Equity and members of Manassen's management team will also remain shareholders.

Mr Manassen said: "This transaction represents a step change for Manassen Foods as it brings value and real upside for us into China and the Asian region. Our backyard has just grown significantly and we have the opportunity to make a major contribution into the most exciting region on the planet. I am very pleased to be part of it."