Chinese company in Weetabix talks

WeetabixA Chinese state-backed food company has renewed its hunger for British brands by holding talks to buy cereal business Weetabix, it has been reported.

Shanghai firm Bright Food has been in talks with Lion Capital, Weetabix's private equity owner, for several weeks, according to the Sunday Times.

In 2010, Bright Food considered a £2 billion deal to buy United Biscuits, the company behind Hula Hoops and Jaffa Cakes, but the talks fell through.

Weetabix dates back to 1932 and was family owned until it was bought by Texan private equity firm, Hicks Muse Tate & Furst, in 2004 for £642 million.

It is thought Bright Food has placed a value of around £1 billion on the Northamptonshire-based business, which sells in 80 countries, employs around 2,000 people and generates annual sales of £423 million.

In 2010, Weetabix accounted for 7% of the country's total cereal sales with annual revenues in excess of £100 million. Other brands in its portfolio include Alpen, Ready brek and Oatibix.

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