US Post Holdings to Acquire Weetabix in US$1.76 Billion Deal
The UK’s iconic cereal brand Weetabix is reportedly being swallowed up by US Post Holdings in a £1.4 billion (US$1.7 million) deal. Chinese owners, The Bright Group, took a 60% share in Weetabix in May 2012 with Baring Private Equity Asia acquiring the remaining 40% from Lion Capital in 2015.
Speculation has been mounting since the beginning of the year after reports in January claimed a potential four bidders – including Post Holdings, Associated British Food, Cereal Partners Worldwide and Italian pasta maker Barilla – were looking into buying Weetabix. Now, the cereal is to be sold with Reuters reporting that a spokesman for the Chinese conglomerate has confirmed the sale today (April 18).
If the sale goes through, this would be the end of Chinese ownership. When The Bright Group first took over, the idea was to push the oval-shaped high-fibre breakfast cereal in potentially lucrative Asian markets, something which has not really been successful in recent years as consumers are not traditionally used to eating cold breakfast cereals with milk.
Headquartered in Missouri, US, Post Holdings Inc., is a consumer packaged goods holding company active in the foodservice, ingredients, private label, refrigerated and nutrition categories and also makes other cereals popular in the US including Cocoa Pebbles and Golden Crisp.
Earlier this year, Weetabix announced a £30 million (US$37 million) capital investment program across its British manufacturing sites to create new production capacity by 2018 to keep pace with increasing sales domestically and overseas. The investment came on the back of Weetabix’s UK market share for cereals and drinks rising from 15.3% to 16.4% in the past year.
Currently the UK cereal is manufactured in Northamptonshire and exported to more than 80 countries worldwide, while Weetabix for the US and Canadian markets is manufactured in Ontario.