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Weetabix, the British cereal that carries a royal warrant, is set to be acquired for about £1.4bn by US consumer giant Post Holdings, according to people briefed about the matter.
Bright Food, the Shanghai-based group that bought a majority stake in the iconic UK breakfast brand in 2012, agreed to sell after several months of negotiations with multiple interested parties, said those briefed about the deal.
A deal between Weetabix and the US group, whose brands include Golden Crisp and Cocoa Pebbles, is likely to be announced as early as Tuesday morning New York time before US markets open, said a person close to the situation.
Post Holdings’ acquisition of the 84-year-old business marks the latest in a wave of foreign takeovers of British brands after the UK voted to leave the EU in June last year.
Post-Brexit UK target M&A is at its second highest level in 8 year, according to Thomson Reuters, as a drop in valuations and a weaker pound have made the UK an attractive destination for foreign buyers.
The US cereal maker prevailed to buy Weetabix after beating the competition of the UK’s Associated British Foods and Cereal Partners, a joint venture between Nestle and General Mills, according to the people close to the situation. Italy’s pasta maker Barilla had also expressed interest for the asset earlier on in the sale process.
Barclays, Nomura and Credit Suisse are financial advisors to Post Holdings on the deal, according to a person informed about who is working with the US group to close the deal. The person added that the three banks are also likely to provide some financing for the transaction.
Goldman Sachs had been hired by Weetabix to handle the sale of the cereal maker late last year.
Shanghai-based group Bright Food bought a majority stake for £1.2bn but struggled in its efforts to extend the Weetabix brand to Chinese consumers, who tend to prefer hot and savoury breakfast dishes.
The FT previously reported that Bright Weetabix’s revenues of £346m in 2015 are 2 per cent lower than in 2012. Its pre-tax profits of £94.3m are 1 per cent lower than in 2012, according to its accounts.
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