URC takes over NZealand’s snack food brand for P26.5B

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The Gokongwei family’s Universal Robina Corp. (URC) has acquired New Zealand’s top biscuit and snack food producer Griffin’s Foods in a deal worth NZ$700 million or P26.5 billion.

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A disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Monday showed that URC bought NZ Snack Food Holdings Limited (NZFHL) from Pacific Equity Partners, an Australian private-equity firm.

NZFHL is the holding company of Griffin’s Foods Limited, which is considered as New Zealand’s leading producer of biscuits and snack food.

John Griffin founded the company in 1864 and it now manufactures and markets a large portfolio of high-quality branded products, including biscuits, crackers, nutritious snack bars, and savory snacks.

Griffin’s, as cited by URC, is the market leader in the biscuit category in New Zealand and one of the most recognized brands in the country.

“The Company currently sells its brands to more than 20 countries and URC intends to expand on these export opportunities,” URC said in a disclosure to the stock exchange.

Still subject to the approval of New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office (OIO), the acquisition is valued at NZ$700 million or a P26.5 billion.

In a statement, URC president and chief executive officer Lance Gokongwei said Griffin’s is a natural strategic fit in the firm’s existing snack foods portfolio given its strong brand heritage in New Zealand.

“In recent years URC has been looking for opportunities to explore potential acquisitions and partnerships in line with our vision to be a significant regional player in snack foods and beverages,” Gokongwei further said.

For his part, Griffin’s executive chairman Ron Vela said the Griffin’s board believes that the experience of URC in developing its own export markets makes it the “ideal partner to take Griffin’s forward as it embarks on this next exciting stage of growth.”

“Like Griffin’s, URC is a leading branded food company that started as a small, family-owned business and has successfully expanded its markets offshore to become one of the largest food and beverage companies in the region with operations in ASEAN markets including the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and China,” Vela added.

For this transaction, URC implemented a voluntary trading suspension on Monday to give the public enough time to digest the information it disclosed.

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