NEW ZEALAND firm Chapman Tripp represented Danone Asia Pte on the sale of New Zealand’s leading biscuit company, Griffins Foods, to Australia’s Pacific Equity Partners for approximately $385 million.
Bell Gully represented the buyer.
The sale was consistent with Groupe Danone’s strategic allocation of capital to targeted higher growth biscuit markets in the Asia Pacific region. John Strowger, Chapman Tripp partner, said the deal was straightforward.
“The company was pretty clean, so there was no pre-sale restructuring necessary,” he said. “There were some shared services with New Zealand-based company Frucor, which is also owned by Danone, but it was otherwise a clean, discreet business.
Also on Danone’s side was the fact that Griffins Foods was a keenly sought asset that attracted “some pretty motivated buyers”, from both the private equity and trade buyer camps. Each of the bidders had their strengths and weaknesses, and it was a matter of juggling the financial and non-financial considerations to assess the best outcome for the vendor, Strowger said.
The trade buyers and private equity parties brought different approaches to the negotiation table, he said. Trade buyers were looking to acquire a business as an addition to an existing set of businesses, and focused on how Griffins Foods would fit with those businesses. Private equity bidders, on the other hand, were usually considering the acquisition as a stand-alone business. Those differences manifest themselves in the way the bidders value the asset.
Strowger said this transaction involved an attractive asset, as well as a vendor that was willing to sell at the right price, and was keen for a clean exit. “We were able to achieve that dynamic because the asset was keenly sought.”