Blog: Dean BestCould Bright Food make another M&A move Down Under?

Dean Best | 31 August 2011

On Monday (29 August), Bright Food, the ambitious Chinese food company that has figured heavily in the industry headlines in the last 18 months, held a signing ceremony for its investment in Australian firm Manassen Foods.

The event was held to mark Bright Food's acquisition of a 75% stake in Manassen, an Australian food manufacturer and importer.

The deal with Manassen, which owns brands including The Margaret River Dairy Company and distributes products locally for the likes of Premier Foods plc and Arla Foods, was Bright Food's biggest outside China. The acquisition was said to value Manassen at A$500m (US$534.2m) although financial details were not disclosed.

However, reports in Australia suggest that the move for a majority shareholding in Manassen could be the first in a number of deals by Bright Food in the country.

"Recently, quite a few small to medium-sized Australian businesses came to us on their own to talk about potential co-operation," Bright Food vice president Ge Junjie told The Australian newspaper. "Australia is the area where we are going to focus more."

Furthermore, in The Financial Times, Bright Food chairman Wang Zongnan, said there could be opportunities to invest in a number of sectors in Australia, including sugar, fruit, agricultural products and dairy.

 

"These abundant resources are our focus for the next stage of our growth," Wang told the FT. "In country selection, Australia comes first. There is also a track record between China and Australia in terms of trade and economic co-operation."

Moreover, Wang said Bright Food had looked at the possibility of more deals across the Tasman in New Zealand, where the company acquired a 51% stake in Synlait Milk last year.

According to the FT, Wang said Bright Food had "examined collaboration opportunities" with New Zealand biscuit maker Griffin's, which could be up for sale. Last month, reports in Australia said Griffin's private-equity owner Pacific Equity Partners had hired UBS and Goldman Sachs to conduct a strategic review of the business.

 


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