The largest snack food company in New Zealand is sold to the Philippines' Universal Robina Corporation (URC) for NZ$700 million or US$609 million. Griffins, owned by Pacific Equity Partners which is a private equity fund manager in Australia, will be paid NZ$100 immediately.
According to reports, Universal Robina will pay the balance upon completion of the transaction or once the Overseas Investment Office in New Zealand approves the deal. Established in 1864, Griffins is a popular snack food manufacturer in New Zealand with products like MallowPuffs and Gingernuts enjoying high sales of more than NZ$300 million a year. i
In a statement, Griffins said the sale to Universal Robina is the "logical next step" pursuing plans of export expansion. The company also wants to bring its snack food products to new markets.
Universal Robina said buying Griffins is a "natural strategic fit" to its current snack food product line. The company believes in Griffins' "strong brand heritage," food quality and safety in New Zealand.
Reports said Universal Robina, one of the largest companies in the Philippines, will be gaining access to ginger nuts and other types of cookies already well-known in Western countries. The Filipino company is part of conglomerate JG Summit Holdings.
Universal Robina is currently serving markets in Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, China and Hongkong. The Griffins deal will allow the company an opportunity to expand in Asia whose population is shifting to Western diets due to increasing wealth, according to reports.
Australia and New Zealand HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham said the growing middle-class population in Asia means higher demand for consumer products, including food. He said some food manufacturers in New Zealand and Australia have become attractive candidates for foreign investment.
Foreign investors have become increasingly interested in the Australia and New Zealand food sector. The growing interest may be due to foreign companies' desire to capitalise on a popular brand.
Reports said Australia and New Zealand's geographical distance from the rest of Asia makes the countries less vulnerable to disease outbreaks that threaten food security and quality.