China's Bright Food buys stake in Australia's Manassen

A man browses the shelves in a Beijing supermarket
Image caption Bright Food is trying to acquire more international brands

China's Bright Food has bought a majority stake in Australian distributor Manassen Foods.

Bright Foods will take a 75% stake in Manassen, in a deal valuing the firm at about 530m Australian dollars ($555m; £336m).

Manassen is majority-owned by Champ Private Equity, and manages brands such as Jelly Belly sweets and Walkers Shortbread biscuits.

Bright Food has previously failed in a series of high-profile takeover bids.

Bright Foods, which is China's second-largest food company, had tried to buy French yoghurt maker Yoplait earlier this year but was outbid by US cereal-maker General Mills.

The state-owned firm also held unsuccessful talks with US nutrition retailer GNC and Australian sugar producer CSR.

Growing business

Bright Food said it planned to expand the Manassen Foods businesses by providing direct access to the fast-growing Chinese market. The deal will also allow Bright Food, the maker of "White Rabbit" sweets, to build a more international presence.

Jason Yuan, a research analyst at UOB Kay Hian in Shanghai, said the deal will benefit both parties.

"Bright Food has extensive distribution channel in China they can import and sell Australian products in," Mr Yuan said.

"They can also improve self-produced products after they acquire Manassen, and possibly import some raw materials from Australia," he added.

The remaining 25% shareholding in Manassen Foods will be divided between company founder Roy Manassen, Champ Private Equity, and other senior management.

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