Bright Food to renew its overseas asset buying efforts

0 CommentsPrint E-mail, April 6, 2011
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Shanghai-based Bright Food (Group) Co Ltd will continue to explore buying assets overseas, despite of setbacks the company suffered during several talks last year, Ge Junjie, vice-president of the Chinese food and dairy giant, said.

The company has identified Australia and New Zealand as the main destinations for its overseas expansion during the next five years.

The company will target the sugar, milk and alcoholic drinks sectors to cater for the Chinese market, Ge said after attending a conference in Shanghai.

"These sectors are strong in those two countries and are also Bright Food's main businesses in China," Ge said. "So acquisitions will help our company to extend the lead in China and to tap overseas markets."

Many companies in the food sector in Australia and New Zealand are controlled by private-equity firms, and following the global financial crisis that status will provide Bright Food with a better chance of striking deals, Ge said.

A special team has been set up to study the countries' social systems, tax policies, industries and laws to facilitate deals, he said.

He said a new deal is already in the pipeline, but declined to provide any details.

Bright Food was in the spotlight last year when it expressed an interest in buying the assets of global giants such as Australia's CSR Ltd and the US nutritional product retailer GNC Holdings Ltd. But it lost out to Singapore's Wilmar International Ltd in July for the sugar and biofuel unit of CSR, and abruptly ended discussions with GNC in January.

Last month, the company also lost in a bid to buy a 50 percent stake in French yogurt maker Yoplait SA. The US food group General Mills Inc bought the stake instead.

"The failed bids won't affect Bright Food's strategy to go overseas," Ge said. "In fact, our overseas expansion has just started. The company's internationalization, as the focus of our business, will achieve fruitful results over the next five years."

In a bid to fund acquisitions, Bright Food may raise as much as 6 billion yuan ($917 million) this year, Bloomberg reported on Saturday, citing Wang Zongnan, the chairman.

A Hong Kong initial public offering of Yunnan Yinmore Sugar Co (Bright Food holds 60 percent of shares in the company) may raise 2.5 to 3 billion yuan, and a bond sale in China may raise a further 3 billion yuan, the report quoted Wang as saying.

The company aims to boost revenue from outside China to as much as 30 percent of sales over the next five years from 5 percent now, the report added.

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