Universal Robina Corp. selling stake in Oceania assets

Universal Robina Corp. selling stake in Oceania assets

Intersnack, the Germany-based snacks group, has made an investment in the assets in Australia and New Zealand owned by Philippines-based peer Universal Robina Corp.

In a stock-exchange filing in The Philippines today (8 July), Universal Robina Corp. said Intersnack had struck a deal to buy 40% of its "consolidated businesses in Australia and New Zealand".

Intersnack is paying for the stake with a mix of cash and shares in its Australian snack-food unit Yarra Valley Snack Foods. Specific financial details were not disclosed. The deal remains subject to the approval of the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board and New Zealand Overseas Investment Office.

Setting out the rationale for the deal, Universal Robina Corp. said: "Leveraging on URC and Intersnack's know-how from their respective markets will yield best practices in manufacturing, supply chain and sustainability practices, setting the groundwork for even larger and more efficient Oceania operations. Through this transaction, URC monetises some of the synergies it has generated from its early investments in Australia and New Zealand, while still retaining control and its ability to further create value within and beyond ANZ."

Universal Robina Corp. snapped up New Zealand biscuit group Griffin's Foods from private-equity firm Pacific Equity Partners for NZD700m (then US$608.9m) in 2014.

Two years later, the company acquired Consolidated Snacks, the company behind Snack Brands Australia, for AUD600m (US$458m at that time).

In an investor presentation in April, Universal Robina Corp. cited data from IRI for the year to 31 March that it said showed it was the largest player in New Zealand's market for sweet biscuits, with a market share of 42% and the second-largest crackers business with a share of 19%.

Universal Robina Corp. also released data from IRI Australian arm Aztec for the year to 17 March it said showed it was the second-largest salty snacks player in Australia with a market share of 24.3%.

Intersnack attained Yarra Valley Snack Foods when it bought UK-based crisp maker Tyrrells from Hershey in 2018. Tyrrells had acquired Yarra Valley Snack Foods three years earlier.

The move to invest in Universal Robina Corp.'s operations in Australia and New Zealand gives the Europe-centric Intersnack greater exposure to a different part of the world.

Intersnack's assets include UK snacks maker KP Snacks, home to brands including McCoy's crisps and KP nuts. The company's portfolio also includes French crisps brand Vico, Swedish brand Estrella and German brand Funny-Frisch. The business is also a supplier of private-label products.

just-food has contacted privately-owned Intersnack to set out its reasons for moving to invest in Universal Robina Corp.'s assets in Australia and New Zealand.