Freedom Foods Group set for acquisitions in Australia and North America

Freedom Foods Group set for acquisitions in Australia and North America

Freedom Foods Group, the Australia-based dairy-to-cereal group, is nearing acquisitions in its domestic market and North America.

The company has signed term sheets to buy an Australia-based sports and adult nutrition business and snap up a "controlling interest" in a cereal and snacks company in North America.

The plans were revealed today (7 December) as Freedom Foods Group announced a move to raise around AUD75m (US$56.1m) through an offer of equity in the business. In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange and a related presentation, Freedom Foods Group did not name the two companies it is set to acquire.

Rory Macleod, the managing director of Freedom Foods Group, told just-food the company "could not disclose" the identities of the businesses "at this stage".

Freedom Foods Group is also looking to use the funds raised through the share offer to buy the half of Australian milk venture Pactum Dairy Group it does not already own. The group also plans to pay for the setting up of a new business, Australia's Own Dairy Company China, an initiative the company first announced in October.

In its filing with the ASX, Freedom Foods Group described the Australian sports and adult nutrition business as one with "an established and recognised brand name with a strong market position across the country and is profitable".

It added: "The proposed acquisition will enable Freedom Foods to expand its brand and category segment offering into the sports and adult nutrition market in Australia, China and south-east Asia, leveraging existing customer and distribution capabilities."

Freedom Foods Group plans to pay around AUD20m in cash for the unnamed business. The company said the deal would be "accretive to earnings" in the first full year of being part of the group, which would coincide with the 2018 financial year. The acquisition is expected to be completed, subject to due diligence, in the first quarter of 2017.

The North American cereal and snacks company in which Freedom Foods Group is set to invest has "a fast-growing brand with products delivering strong nutritional credentials to its targeted family consumers". The unnamed business sells products to around 11,500 "natural and speciality retailer stores across the US and Canada", Freedom Foods Group said.

Freedom Foods Group said the deal could help "accelerate the expansion" of its Freedom brand in North America and widen its range beyond its "allergen-free base". The company also expects that the deal would be "accretive to earnings" in the first full year of being part of the group, which would also coincide with the 2018 financial year. Freedom Foods Group also estimates the acquisition would be closed in the first three months of 2017. It did not indicate how much it would pay for the controlling interest in the business.