Lion Mulls Weetabix Exit

Private equity firm Lion Capital is in talks to sell Weetabix, one of Britain’s biggest breakfast cereal producers, to Chinese government-backed food and dairy group Bright Food for about 1 billion pounds ($1.61 billion), Reuters wrote Monday. Weetabix is the second-largest branded manufacturer by value of ready-to-eat cereals and cereal bars in Britain. The company also has operations in North America, South Africa, Germany and Spain, and exports to more than 80 countries.

(Reuters) – Private equity firm Lion Capital is in talks to sell Weetabix, one of Britain’s biggest breakfast cereal producers, to Chinese government-backed food and dairy group Bright Food for about 1 billion pounds ($1.61 billion), banking sources said on Monday.

 

Some bankers question the viability of the transaction as Bright Food has been known to walk away from deals. It ended buyout talks in 2010 for United Biscuits, Britain’s biggest snack food group and maker of McVitie’s biscuits and Hula Hoops.

 

No bank has been officially appointed as sellside adviser yet, bankers said.

 

The producer of Alpen, Ready Brek and Weetabix cereals was bought by Hicks, Muse (Europe) in November 2003 for 642 million pounds. In April 2005, Hicks Muse (Europe) changed its name to Lion Capital, according to Thomson Reuters LPC data.

 

Weetabix is the second-largest branded manufacturer by value of ready-to-eat cereals and cereal bars in Britain. The company also has operations in North America, South Africa, Germany and Spain, and exports to more than 80 countries.

 

It employs approximately 1,800 people worldwide and in 2010 generated sales of approximately 449 million pounds. (By Claire Ruckin)