Suitors lining up for a bowl of Weetabix - reports

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 | BUSINESS SALE

An Italian pasta firm, a joint-venture between some of the world’s major cereal companies and PepsiCo are among the businesses reported to be lining up for a bite of the UK’s second biggest cereal brand, Weetabix.

Last year, Bright Food Group, Weetabix’s Chinese owner, hired Goldman Sachs to sound out interest from potential buyers for its 60 per cent stake in the firm. With the business valued at as much as £2 billion, analysts think a bidding war is on the cards.

Reports put Cereal Partners Worldwide, a JV between Nestle and General Mills, PepsiCo and Italian family business Barilla among the hungry and interested parties. You may be wondering where cereal giant Kellogg’s is in all this - it’s thought the firm is wary of bidding because of competition concerns.

Weetabix, established in 1932 and a family-owned business until only 2003, has a 13 per cent share in the UK cereal market and operates a number of other breakfast brands including Alpen and Ready Brek.

The state conglomerate Bright Food bought a majority stake in Weetabix in 2012 with the remaining shares held by Baring Private Equity Asia. However, while there has been growth in Asia the brand has struggled to properly cement its place on Chinese breakfast tables.

Weetabix turned over £346.4 million in the year to January 2016, compared to £352.1 million year earlier, with pre-tax profit dropping to £94.3 million.

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