China’s Bright Food Group Close to GNC Deal

China’s Bright Foods Group Co. is close to a $2.5 billion to $3 billion deal to buy vitamin chain GNC Holdings, Reuters reported. Pittsburgh-based GNC Holdings is owned by Ares Management and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board. Ares and the pension plan bought GNC in 2007 from private equity firm Apollo Management in a deal with a total enterprise value of $1.65 billion.

(Reuters) – China’s Bright Food Group Co is close to a deal to buy U.S. vitamin retail chain GNC Holdings Inc for $2.5 billion to $3 billion, a source familiar with the situation said on Monday.

The potential acquisition of Pittsburgh-based GNC, which is owned by Ares Management and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, could be announced in the next few days, said the source who declined to be identified because the talks were not public.

GNC, which sells nutrition supplements, vitamins, sports drinks and other diet products through 7,100 stores worldwide, had been exploring an initial public offering, as well as an outright purchase.

In September, GNC had filed registration papers with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an IPO of up to $350 million.

Ares Management LLC and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan bought GNC in 2007 from Apollo Management LP [APOLO.UL] in a deal with a total enterprise value of $1.65 billion. Apollo had twice previously tried to bring GNC public.

Ares Management, Bright Food, and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan could not be immediately reached for comment.

Bright Food is one of China’s largest food and dairy companies. Recently it was in talks to buy United Biscuits for about $3.2 billion, but then turned its attention to GNC, The Wall Street Journal reported.

(Reporting by Jessica Hall and Ilaina Jonas; Editing by Richard Chang, Phil Berlowitz)