/ By Ilan Shavit /
China’s Bright Food Group said on Tuesday it was holding talks with Tnuva, the largest food manufacturer and distributor in Israel, about a possible acquisition.
“This has really just got going, and the two sides are in the process of talking and understanding one another, ” Bright Food spokesman Pan Jianjun has told Reuters.
The Shanghai based company, which is chaired by Wang Zongnan, has been on something of an international acquisition spree lately, buying up New Zealand’s Synlait Milk Ltd, Australia’s Manassen Foods and France’s Diva in a bid to expand its global reach. Bright also owns 60% of British cereal producer Weetabix, for which it paid over US$1billion just over a year ago.
London based private equity firm Apax Partners holds a 56 percent stake in dairy-focused Tnuva, and a potential deal for Bright to acquire Tnuva might be worth around 10 billion yuan a Chinese newspaper paper has said, or about US$1.5 billion at current rates of exchange – though it was unclear if they were referring to just the Apax interest or the whole company. Neither Tnuva itself nor Apax partners have so far made any comment; they might doubtless prefer a higher price.
Bright has previously enunciated a strategy to increase its sales and production levels outside of China from its current 15% to as much as 25% by the year 2015.
Of course just because a couple starts dating doesn’t mean they will get married, and any formal acquisition agreement between the parties looks some way down the turnpike just at this moment. Bright had earlier in 2011 also tried to buy another big French company, Yoplait, but didn’t go all the way then either losing out to U.S. competitor General Mills in Minneapolis.