Anglo-Dutch food and consumer products giant Unilever said today [Tuesday] that it has agreed to pay US$381m for the 50% it does not already own in an Asian food venture from Japanese food and seasoning producer Ajinomoto.

Unilever said it would pay for the balance of the CPC/Aji Asia joint venture over two years but would take full management control and 100% of sales and operating profit from 25 March 2003.

CPC/Aji started out as a joint venture between Ajinomoto and US food company Bestfoods in 1987. Unilever ended up with the Bestfoods stake in the JV following its acquisition of the US food giant in 2000.

CPC/Aji employs around 1,900 people in six factories in Asia, making branded foods such as Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Skippy peanut butter.