Wessanen, the Netherlands-based food group, today (10 April) announced its board had accepted a takeover offer valuing the business at EUR885m (US$994.4m).
A consortium of private-equity firm PAI Partners and Wessanen’s largest investor, Charles Jobson, have teamed up to buy the Amsterdam-listed company, which is the owner of brands including Mrs Crimble cakes, Bjorg baby food and Whole Earth peanut butter.
Wessanen revealed last month it was in talks with PAI and Jobson over a possible deal. Announcing the deal today, Christophe Barnouin, Wessanen’s chairman and CEO, suggested the sale would help the business in a more competitive environment. He said the executive and supervisory boards of Wessanen back the bid.
“Our vision is to build a European leader in organic and sustainable food. We want to remain at the forefront of making food healthier and more sustainable for the benefit of both consumers and the planet. This requires a long-term commitment from shareholders and long-term investments. It is all the more critical in an era where organic, sustainable and healthy themes have grown increasingly popular, which in turn has resulted in a more competitive landscape,” Barnouin, who is set to remain Wessanen chairman and CEO, said.
“PAI and Charles Jobson are fully supportive of our strategy and will bring a longer-term horizon and additional investments supporting the execution of our plans. We believe that for our existing shareholders, the offer represents an attractive price. Taking into account the interests of all stakeholders, the boards consider the offer to be in the best interest of Wessanen and we therefore fully support and recommend the offer.”
PAI and Jobson have struck a deal to pay EUR11.50 a share for Wessanen, which also counts Kallo rice cakes and snacks and Clipper among its brands. Under the terms of the transaction, PAI will hold 62% of the consortium, with Jobson the remainder. Jobson, who has been a Wessanen shareholder for a decade, presently owns 25.7% of the business.
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Wessanen’s headquarters are to remain in Amsterdam. The announcement outlining the deal also stated “no material reductions” of Wessanen’s “total workforce” are expected “as a direct result of the offer, completion thereof or the merger”, adding: “The consortium intends to continue the production activities in the European factories of the group.”
The filing also said: “Wessanen’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the aspired group-wide B Corp. certification and its goal to minimise its environmental footprint and waste are fully supported by the consortium.”
In a statement, Jobson said: “Since 2009, I have been a supporter of Wessanen’s vision to become Europe’s leader in healthy and sustainable food. I have been following Wessanen closely and strongly believe in a bright future for all its stakeholders. As a private company, I believe Wessanen will have better potential to accelerate and continue to be at the forefront in the industry. Together with PAI, a long-term strategic partner, we will support Wessanen and its management in the execution of its strategic plans over the coming years.”
The filing said the bid was a premium of around 21% on Wessanen’s share price the day before the company revealed the talks last month and 29% above the volume-weighted average share price in the 90 days running up to that date.
Gaëlle d’Engremont, partner at PAI, said: “Wessanen is extremely well-positioned in the European health food industry, housing high-quality brands and being at the forefront on innovation in this rapidly-growing sector. We intend to accelerate Wessanen’s growth using our experience in the food and consumer space and investing further in the brands and the people of Wessanen to increase the reach of the company. We are fully committed to Wessanen’s current strategy and are excited to work alongside their passionate management team and long-time shareholder Charles Jobson. Together we can support the company to further build on its position as a leading sustainable and healthy food company in Europe, fully engaged with its customers on a daily basis.”