Gokongwei's URC buys New Zealand's number 1 snack food firm


Posted at Jul 21 2014 10:36 AM | Updated as of Jul 21 2014 11:27 PM

Griffin's snacks

MANILA (UPDATE) - Gokongwei-led snack and beverage manufacturer Universal Robina Corp. on Monday said its subsidiary is buying New Zealand's number one snack food company Griffin's Foods for P26.6 billion.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, URC said URC International Co Ltd is buying NZ Snack Food Holdings Ltd, the holding company of Griffin's Foods, for NZ$700 million ($609 million or P26.5 billion) in cash.

URC described Griffin's is the #1 snack food company in New Zealand and has a growing presence in Australia as well as a strong platform for Asian expansion.

"The proposed acquisition is expected to transform Griffin’s international growth strategy as it will benefit from URC’s existing distribution networks across the Philippines and other Asian countries. In addition, the acquisition complements URC’s product portfolio, leveraging its distribution strength to sell a premium range of products in its home and international markets," URC said.

URC said the NZ Snack Foods Holdings generates around NZ$280 million (around P10.6 billion) in annual net sales, and EBITDA of NZ$78 million (around P3 billion).

URC president and CEO Lance Gokongwei said Griffin's is a natural strategic fit to the company's existing snack foods portfolio.

"We believe Griffin’s is at the forefront of global consumer trends in snacking, including: indulgence; a sense of play and excitement; using natural ingredients; ensuring traceability of source; and providing healthy alternatives. We are very excited to introduce and grow these brands in Asia," he said.

The Auckland-based Griffin's is known for biscuits under the Griffin's and Huntley and Palmers brands; salty snacks under the Eta brand; and wrapped snacks under the Nice & Natural brand.

For his part, Griffin’s executive chairman Ron Vela said, "The Griffin’s board believes URC’s significant experience 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."

URC International will fund the transaction from long-term debt financing and internal sources.

However, the acquisition will still need the approval of New Zealand's Overseas Investment Office.