Pasta company Barilla has emerged as the most likely buyer for Weetabix – the cereal company that has been put up for sale by its Chinese owner.
Bright Foods, which acquired its 60% stake in the company in 2012, is believed to want around £1.5 billion for Weetabix.
As well as its flagship range of wheat biscuits, which are the second most popular breakfast cereal in the UK, Weetabix also produces the Ready Brek and Alpen brands.
The business turned over almost £350 million in 2015, but falling pre-tax profits suggest that suitors may be unwilling to part with £1.5 billion to acquire it.
The majority stake that Bright Foods bought in 2012 valued the company at around £1.2 billion, media reports at the time suggest.
Bright Foods is one of the largest Chinese conglomerates in entire food industry, with operations in agriculture, food processing and retail.
But faltering performance for Weetabix in China has prompted the company to cash in.
Weetabix is the second most popular brand of breakfast cereals in the UK. © Weetabix
Besides Barilla, there is thought to be interest from PepsiCo, as well as the cereals joint venture backed by Nestlé and General Mills.
But Kellogg is reported to have been put off the acquisition by competition concerns, and Barilla appears at this time to be the most likely buyer.
The remaining 40% stake in Weetabix is owned by Baring Private Equity Asia – one of Asia’s largest private equity groups. Any future owner would need to negotiate a deal with the firm, which has offices in eight different Asian cities, before they could control the entirety of the cereal empire.
Weetabix was founded in 1932 and sources all the wheat used in its breakfast cereals from within a 50-mile radius of its mills in Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire.
The mills currently export to over 80 countries around the world, employing around 1,800 staff members internationally and operating manufacturing plants overseas – including in North America.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2022
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