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Philippine food giant to buy NZ snack-maker

Leading Philippine food processor Universal Robina Corp. (URC) said Monday it would buy New Zealand snack-food maker Griffin's for NZ$700 million (US$610 million) to help it expand its product range and help the New Zealand group enter new markets.

MANILA: Leading Philippine food processor Universal Robina Corp (URC) said Monday it would buy New Zealand snack-food maker Griffin's for NZ$700 million (US$610 million).

The firm said in a statement the move would help it expand its product range while helping the 150-year-old New Zealand group - which makes Griffin's Biscuits, ETA Salty Snacks and "Nice and Natural" bars - to crack new markets.

"We believe Griffin's is a natural strategic fit to our existing snack foods portfolio given its strong brand heritage in New Zealand, a country trusted worldwide in having high credibility when it comes to food quality, safety and authenticity," URC president Lance Gokongwei said in the statement.

The statement said that subject to regulatory approval URC will buy New Zealand Snack Food Holdings, the holding company of Griffin's, from its owner, Pacific Equity Partners.

"The proposed acquisition is expected to transform Griffin's international growth strategy as it will benefit from URC's existing distribution networks across the Philippines and other Asian countries," the statement added.

URC, founded by ethnic Chinese tycoon John Gokongwei in 1954, is a major food company in the Philippines, selling products ranging from coffee, chocolates, meat and poultry goods to noodles, animal feed, veterinary products, sugar and flour.

It has operations in several other Asian countries and exports to the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Trading in URC was suspended by the stock exchange on Monday pending the company's compliance with disclosure rules regarding the acquisition.

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