Cambridge law firm Mills & Reeve advised UK breakfast cereal maker Weetabix on its sale into Chinese ownership.Shanghai-based Bright Food has acquired a majority 60 per cent stake in Kettering headquartered Weetabixfor an enterprise value of £1.2 billion.
The remaining 40 per cent of shares will continue to be held by management and Lion Capital, the private equity firm which acquired Weetabix in 2004.
Weetabix exports a number of iconic brands to over 80 countries and the new owner plans major expansion – principally in Asia and North America.
Giles Turrell, CEO of Weetabix Food Company, praised Mills & Reeve corporate lawyer Anthony McGurk and his team, for the efficient handling of a significant international transaction.
He said: “The support, guidance and counsel received from Anthony McGurk and his team at Mills & Reeve was outstanding and ensured the timely completion of this transaction. We would be delighted to work with Anthony and his team in the future.”
McGurk added: “This deal will resonate around the world due to the high consumer loyalty towards Weetabix. In addition to the iconic Weetabix product, it also exports brands such as Alpen to more than 80 countries.”
Weetabix is the second largest cereal manufacturer in the UK, with an exceptional portfolio of brands which makes it attractive to investors, according to Giles Turrell.
He said: “While the company’s focus has been on reinforcing and building on our leading position in the UK, I believe there are also substantial opportunities to further grow the business internationally, in North America, Asia and beyond.
“We are very excited about the future prospects for Weetabix under the guidance and support of shareholders who bring a strong track record of success and the complementary skills and expertise to execute our strategy and vision for the business.”
Bright Food generated 2011 revenues of $12.2bn and had an EBITDA of $1.2bn.
Chairman, Zongnan Wang, said: “We are excited by the many growth opportunities for the Weetabix business, especially in international markets, and Asia in particular.
“With Bright Food’s strong resources and our expertise in both the Chinese and broader international markets we are excellently placed to develop the Weetabix business.”