KKR & Co. (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) has become the frontrunner to buy Arnott’s biscuits from its current owner, Campbell Soup Company.
Campbell Soup Company announced plans to sell off a number of business units in August last year, to enable it to simplify its operations and focus on its core portfolio of soup, simple meals and snacks. It is selling its fresh food and international units along with manufacturing operations in Indonesia and Malaysia and businesses in Hong Kong and Japan. (Food & Drink Business 31/08/2019, 22/03/2019).
Last month (19 May) The Australian Financial Review reported Campbell had asked Mondelez International and KKR to reconfirm their bids as neither had hit the $3 billion asking price.
Mondelez is said to have walked away due to its price and consumer trends moving towards healthier snacking options, AFR says. Regulatory issues have also been raised about Mondelez buying the business. Arnott’s has 61 per cent of the Australian biscuit market while Mondelez has eight per cent, which may draw the attention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Campbell Soup took full control of Arnott's in 1997, paying $420 million for the remaining 30 per cent after its hostile $1.2 billion takeover bid in 1993 netted only 70 per cent.
KKR told F&DB it would not comment at this stage.
Food & Drink Business approached Arnott’s for comment, but it did not responde by press time.
Updated: 4pm, 07/06/2019