Belfast Telegraph

Chinese take bite of Weetabix

By Jamie Grierson

Cereal favourite Weetabix is to come under Chinese ownership after a deal involving the Asian country's biggest overseas food takeover.

Shanghai firm Bright Food will take a majority 60% share of the Weetabix Food Company, placing a £1.2bn value on the cereal giant, while current private equity owner Lion Capital will retain a 40% stake.

Northampton-based Weetabix, which also owns Alpen and Ready Brek, was founded in 1932 and was family owned until 2004 when it was bought by a Texan private equity firm.

State-backed Bright Food, which generated revenues of around £7.5bn last year, is looking to take advantage of China's appetite for healthy foods and to drive growth across Asia.

Zongnan Wang, Bright Food chairman, said: "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."

Bright Food in 2010 considered a £2bn deal to buy United Biscuits, the company behind Hula Hoops and Jaffa Cakes, but the talks fell through.

Weetabix Food Company, the UK's second biggest cereal manufacturer, exports to more than 80 countries, employs nearly 2,000 people and generates annual sales of more than £420m. The Weetabix cereal alone accounted for 7% of the UK's cereal sales, with annual figures of £100m.

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