Chinese firm in Weetabix takeover

China’s Bright Food will take control of breakfast cereal maker Weetabix, beloved by generations of Irish children, in the biggest foreign acquisition by a Chinese food group.

State-owned Bright Food has agreed to buy a 60% stake in a deal which puts a value of € 1.4bn, including debt, on the private-equity owned company.

The Shanghai-based group has been on the acquisition trail, seeking to raise its profile and cater for its rapidly growing home market. Weetabix is its second foreign purchase in a year and its first in Europe.

Weetabix is Britain’s second-biggest maker of breakfast cereals and cereal bars after Kelloggs. Its brands include Alpen muesli and Ready Break.

Bright Food chairman Wang Zhongnan said: “As China’s leading food group, we are pleased to become the controlling shareholder of Weetabix.”

Private equity owners Lion Capital and Weetabix management will keep a 40% stake.

Bright Food sees a big opportunity for Weetabix in China, where breakfast is a very important meal and there is a trend towards healthy eating.

Analysts expected more deals would now follow in Europe after its earlier failed bids to buy Britain’s private-equity owned United Biscuits, the McVitie’s and Hula Hoops group, and a stake in French yoghurt firm Yoplait.

Paris-based lawyer at De Pardieu Brocas Maffei, Ghislain de Mareuil, said this was the beginning of a trend. “What Bright Food has done will definitely set a trend for other Chinese food companies the way we have seen in the automotive industry,” he said.

Weetabix had sales of over £460m (€566m) in 2011 and employs around 1,800 people.

— Reuters


Last week, I wrote about 'small is beautiful' as a key to an improved environment for all living things after this Covid crisis is finally over. As I wrote, I saw, in the mind's eye, the village where I live in west Cork and from which my wife and I are temporarily exiled.Damien Enright: Community spirit can ensure we pull through - together

Fifty years ago, a fox was spotted in Dublin’s St. Stephen’s Green. The unfortunate animal was chased by local ‘gurriers’. It took refuge in a tree but was promptly stoned to death.Richard Collins: Wildlife taking back the streets of our cities

The north pier on Cape Clear has been eerily quiet these last few months as no visitors disembark. The ferry is not unloading boatloads of tourists from Baltimore, 45 minutes away, or from Schull, as it would normally.The Islands of Ireland: Cape Clear tells its side of the story

If the Donegal postman and amateur weather forecaster has it right, we could be in for water shortages in the coming months. Michael Gallagher, who predicted the scorching summer of 2018 and the 2010 freeze-up, says we’ll have a ‘lovely’ summer.Donal Hickey: Demand for water to soar

More From The Irish Examiner