10:43am UK, Thursday May 03, 2012
British cereal favourite Weetabix has come under Chinese ownership after a Shanghai firm bought a majority stake in the Northampton-based business.
Chinese state-backed firm Bright Food has agreed to buy 60% share of the Weetabix Food Company, while current private equity owner Lion Capital will retain a 40% stake.
The deal saw the British cereal giant, which also owns Alpen and Ready Brek, valued at £1.2bn.
Bright Food, which generated revenues of around £7.5bn last year, is looking to take advantage of China's "growing appetite" for healthy foods and to drive Weetabix's growth across Asia.
The firm's chairman Zongnan Wang 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."
Weetabix By Numbers
1932 Year founded
£100m Annual revenues
2010 Year Chocolate Weetabix was launched
Weetabix, which is 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 accounts for 7% of UK cereal sales.
Weetabix chief executive Giles Turrell 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."
The transaction is subject to regulatory and government approvals in China , although completion of the deal is expected in the second half of the year.
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