Post Holdings to Acquire Weetabix For £1.4 Billion
Post Holdings, a US-based consumer packaged goods holding company which is the third largest cereal company in the country, has agreed to acquire Weetabix from Shanghai-based state-owned enterprise Bright Food Group and an investment fund advised by Baring Private Equity Asia for £1.4 billion. UK-based Weetabix primarily produces ready-to-eat (RTE) cereal products spanning branded and private label. Founded in 1932, Weetabix holds the number two overall position in the UK RTE cereal category. Its portfolio includes the iconic Weetabix brand, which holds the number one brand position in the UK RTE cereal category, as well as Alpen (the number one muesli brand in the UK), Barbara’s, Weetos and Ready Brek.
Weetabix generated revenues of £409 million (US$513 million) and earnings of £120 million (US$148 million) for the year ended December 2016.
In North America, Weetabix operates a leading natural and organic RTE cereal and snacking platform in both branded and private label, led by the Barbara’s brand and the Puffins sub-brand and serving leading natural and specialty channel and conventional retailers.
Additionally, Weetabix has an established and extensive international presence, with operations in Africa through two joint ventures and a distribution export business to over 90 countries. Post has agreed in principle to establish a joint venture with Bright Food Group and an investment fund advised by Baring Private Equity Asia to manage the Weetabix China operations.
Post Holdings operates across four business segments – Post Consumer Brands (ready-to-eat cereal), Michael Foods Group (egg, potato, cheese and pasta), Active Nutrition (protein shakes, bars and powders), and Private Brands (nut butters, dried fruit and nuts and granola).
“We have long admired Weetabix as a leader in cereal and believe it will be a fantastic strategic fit within Post,” says Rob Vitale, president and chief executive of Post Holdings. “Combining together two category leaders continues our strategy of strengthening our portfolio in stable categories and diversifying into new markets, bringing much-loved brands to significantly more customers globally. We are excited about the growth opportunities that this acquisition brings.”
The combination of Post and Weetabix creates a diversified international food company with substantial free cash flow generation, enabling Post to fund growth over the long-term, including international cross-selling opportunities through expansion of Post products in select international markets and further expansion of Weetabix and Barbara’s in North America.
At the closing of the transaction, Sally Abbott, Weetabix’s director of marketing, will become managing director of Weetabix UK and Ireland and report to Rob Vitale. Giles Turrell, Weetabix’s current chief executive, will assume the newly created role of chairman of Weetabix with responsibility for overseeing the integration of Weetabix into the Post portfolio. The other members of Weetabix’s existing management team will continue to lead the organisation.
Post expects Weetabix to contribute approximately £120 million of adjusted EBITDA on an annual basis before the realisation of cost synergies which Post management expects to be approximately £20 million annually by the third full fiscal year post-closing, resulting from benefits of scale, shared administrative services and infrastructure optimisation and rationalisation. The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to Post’s adjusted EBITDA margins and free cash flow, excluding one-time transaction expenses.
The transaction is expected to be completed in the third calendar quarter of the 2017 subject to the satisfaction of limited closing conditions, including the expiration of waiting periods under US antitrust laws.