Bright Food Targets Listing Cereal-Maker Weetabix by 2016

Bright Food Group Co., the Chinese owner of British cereal maker Weetabix Ltd. and Australian food company Manassen Foods, is planning overseas listings of the units by 2016, the company said yesterday.

The Shanghai-based food group has formed an internal working group and is in talks with investment banks about taking both companies public, Ge Junjie, Bright Food’s vice president, said at a press conference yesterday. He declined to comment on the amount they plan to raise.

Bright Food was prepared to spend as much as 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) on an acquisition as part of a drive to increase overseas sales, Chairman Lv Yongjie said in June. The company, whose units include dairy, candy, and meat producers, and a taxi operator in Shanghai, wants to access overseas capital to become more of an international player.

“We want to list our foreign core units, this is part of our plans to become an international player and tap the overseas capital markets,” said Ge. “We are looking at competitor valuations and the type of investments that the investors in those foreign markets like.”

Bright Food is considering Hong Kong as possible locations for both units, and also London for the share sale of Weetabix and the Australian stock market for Manassen, the maker of Albatros bread and Harringtons chocolates, Ge said. The company plans to still retain a majority stake in the units.

Wine, Cows

Bright Food agreed to buy a 60 percent stake in Weetabix from private equity firm Lion Capital LLP in May 2012, which the Chinese company said at the time valued the cereal-maker at 1.2 billion pounds ($1.9 billion). It paid A$400 million ($416 million) for 75 percent of Manassen Foods in 2011, according to two people familiar with the transaction.

The company is also looking for merger and acquisition opportunities in the sugar, dairy and wine industries, and may buy meat and dairy cows in the Australia and New Zealand regions, Ge said.

Such buyouts will help the company expand the distribution channels and expertise that it needs to become an international player, he added.

— With assistance by Liza Lin

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