Beijing Sanyuan Foods and Fosun buy French margarine maker St Hubert for US$733 mn
Deal done as Beijing places overseas acquisitions under greater scrutiny
Beijing Sanyuan Foods Co Ltd and Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group are buying French margarine maker St Hubert for 625 million euros ($733 million), the companies said on Friday.
Sanyuan and Fosun said they had signed an agreement with European private equity firm Montagu to acquire Brassica TopCo S.A. and PPN Management SAS, which are controlling shareholders of St Hubert. Montagu acquired St Hubert from Dairy Crest Plc for 430 million euros in 2012.
The St Hubert deal comes even as Beijing scrutinises overseas acquisitions, which include everything from soccer clubs and hotels to mining firms and chemical makers, to rein in offshore spending by huge Chinese firms.
“The proposed acquisition also introduces healthy and innovative foods into China and is aligned with the government’s policy to support and drive technological innovation,” Fosun Chairman Guo Guangchang said in a statement.
Fosun Group, China’s largest private conglomerate, recently said it had a few French consumer goods companies on its radar including ski resorts and amusement parks operator Compagnie des Alpes.
Set up in 1904, St Hubert reported consolidated net turnover of 129 million euros in the 2016 financial year and has 213 employees. It has more than 40 per cent market share in France and almost 70 per cent in Italy.
Under pressure to improve margins, global giant Unilever is preparing to spin out its own spreads business, a process which is expected to launch in the autumn with several international buyout funds seen bidding.
Fosun took control of Club Med in January 2015 after a fierce battle lasting nearly two years with Italian tycoon Andrea Bonomi, the longest takeover fight in French corporate history.
The proposed deal will be submitted to St Hubert’s workers’ council and is subject to approval from relevant competition and regulatory authorities, the statement said.
Trading in Sanyuan’s shares, suspended since July 17, will resume on Monday.