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Bright Food gets 2nd Aussie firm

Updated: 2014-01-14 07:15
By He Wei in Shanghai ( China Daily)

Bright Food Group Co Ltd, China's second-largest food producer, acquired a midsized Australian dairy company following the purchase of Manassen Foods in the same country.

Manassen, in which Bright Food has a 75 percent stake, has signed a deal to buy Mundella Foods, a four-decade-old company in Western Australia, according to Bright Food spokesman Pan Jianjun.

The deal will make Mundella a wholly owned subsidiary of Manassen, a supplier and distributor of local and international foods, Pan told China Daily on Monday.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Records filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission showed that significant management changes occurred at Mundella last month, including the appointment of directors from Manassen to the smaller dairy company.

Pan confirmed that Manassen's senior employees will take managerial roles in Mundella and oversee its operations.

Bright Food paid $516 million in 2011 for its majority stake in Manassen, which has a strong presence in West Australia through its ownership of Margaret River Dairy Co and gourmet olive group Don Vica.

Mundella, which is also based in West Australia, was founded in 1972, when the Hector family used surplus milk to make dairy products and supply local shops. The company does not publish financial reports.

The recently acquired company owns one of West Australia's best-known dairy brands and has secured broad distribution of its products, such as yogurts and cheeses, through local supermarkets and specialty food stores, Pan added.

The move will help enrich Manassen's product line.

The State-backed Bright Food plans to expand its major business areas - dairy products, wines, sugar and branded food products - overseas.

Prioritizing targets in Australia, New Zealand and Europe, Bright Food has taken bites of foreign assets to boost overseas sales.

Apart from Manassen, it bought French wine merchant Diva Bordeaux and British cerealmaker Weetabix, and it's also in talks with Tnuva Food Industries Ltd, Israel's biggest food manufacturer and distributor.

The Shanghai-based firm is contemplating listing some of its foreign assets.

Bright Food said it's also mapping out an aggressive plan to place its products in new channels.

"We're creating a genuine global network by allowing, for instance, British customers to access Mundella's cheese, or Australian consumers to have a taste of French wine," Pan said.

Bright Food holds a 5.7 percent share of China's 174 billion yuan ($28.54 billion) dairy market, ranking fourth in the domestic market, according to Euromonitor International.

It has a market share of 1.4 percent in terms of packaged foods and 1.6 percent in the ice cream market, said the London-based firm.

In 2013, Chinese companies launched overseas M&A deals worth about $56.2 billion, and overall M&A activity will likely stay buoyant in 2014, said a Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu report.


(China Daily 01/14/2014 page15)