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Mallesons' icecream deal has 'IP flavour'
International firm comes under fire in Federal Court:

Mallesons' icecream deal has 'IP flavour'

Nestle Australia and Societe de Produits Nestle S.A's current acquisition of Fonterra's Peters ice cream business in Western Australia has been "one of those delicious little deals" for Mallesons Stephen Jaques.

Nestlé Australia and Societe de Produits Nestle S.A’s current acquisition of Fonterra’s Peters ice cream business in Western Australia has been “one of those delicious little deals” for Mallesons Stephen Jaques. 

Katrina Rathie, intellectual property and brands partner at Mallesons, said that “you work on some deals and you think ‘the subject matter is so boring’. But what’s not to love about icecream?”. 

Apart from its obvious appeal for the firm, the acquisition is one in a string of deals being run as part of the rationalisation of the dairy industry, which has been underway in Australia for two to three years. 

“National Foods’ acquisition of Dairy Farmers was one of the types of deals that were starting in the rationalisation of the dairy industry. Dairy Farmers, which was a farmers’ cooperative if you like, formed a public company and went on to sell their milk assets to National Foods. Then their cheese assets went somewhere. And they had the long-term license of Nestlé Australia’s Ski Yoghurt brand,” Rathie said. 

“So you are getting a certain sales of businesses in the dairy industry. In the case of Nestlé, they have licensed back some of their brands. So it is an example of the kind of deals that are happening in the sector right now.”

Nestle has owned the Peters brand on the east coast of Australia for many years, Rathie said, while it is a Nestlé brand internationally. 

But by a quirk of history, Peters in Western Australia was never owned by Nestlé. On the west coast of Australia, Peters has been owned by a series of different companies, which was last owned by Fonterra. 

“This is an interesting deal from a trademark perspective because you are kind of bringing the trademark to a whole now. So Nestlé will move to national ownership of the brand. So I think it’s been a long-held wish to bring the Peters brand under one roof,” she said. 

Rathie, who is Mallesons’ national relationship partner for Nestlé, said this is an example of the type of deal that is happening in M&A at the moment. 

“So this was a brand deal. Yes we work closely with our M&A colleagues on the sale of business aspects. But in this case, because there were so many icecream brands involved, it had a strong [intellectual property] flavour,” she said. 

As part of the deal, Nestlé also acquires the gourmet icecream brand Connoisseur, together with rights to a number of other regional icecream brands, including Memphis Meltdown. It currently owns brands including Heaven and Drumstick. 

Mallesons’ team included M&A partner Michael Barker, senior associate Claire Broomhead, competition partner Sharon Henrick and Rathie. Minter Ellison, meanwhile, represented Fonterra. 

The closing date is expected to be towards the end of June. 

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