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URC teams up with German snacks maker to get a bite of European market.

Gokongwei-led Universal Robina Corp. (URC) is selling a 40-percent stake in its consolidated business in Australia and New Zealand to German-based Intersnack Group, unlocking values from this overseas business while potentially gaining access to the European market.

Through its wholly owned BVI subsidiary URC Oceania Company Ltd., URC announced on Monday a strategic partnership with Intersnack Group to boost its operations in the Oceania. In exchange for the 40-percent stake in URC Oceania, URC will receive a mix of cash and shares of Yarra Valley Snack Foods Pty. Ltd, Intersnack's natural snack food unit in Australia.

URC and Intersnack have received approval from their respective board of directors to proceed with this transaction.

'Leveraging on URC and Intersnack's know-how from their respective markets will yield best practices in manufacturing, supply chain and sustainability practices, setting the groundwork for an even larger and more efficient Oceania operations. Through this transaction, URC monetizes some of the synergies it has generated from its early investments in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), while still retaining control and its ability to further create value within and beyond ANZ,' URC disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Monday.

This transaction is intended to be completed once the necessary approvals are obtained from the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board and New Zealand Overseas Investment Office.

The privately owned Intersnack Group has operations in 24 countries. The European company has built an extensive product portfolio of savory snacks including potato and tortilla chips, puffed and other corn snacks, baked products, popcorn and nuts.

Intersnack, which ranks either first or second in different market segments, generates about $3 billion (P158.6 billioin) in net sales across Europe. In Australia, Intersnack's presence is currently limited to Yarra Valley, a market leader in organic and gluten-free snacks.

URC's businesses in the Oceania include Snack Brands Australia, one of Australia's leading snack companies and Griffin, New Zealand's leading biscuits company with a 150-year baking heritage.

The Gokongwei group started sowing its seeds across the region even before the creation of the Asean economic community became a reality. In recent years, the group widened its horizon to Oceania by acquiring market-leading players in Australia and New Zealand. It acquired Griffin in 2014 and SBA in 2016.

After building its presence within the Asia-Pacific, URC also aspires to bring its products-particularly those produced in the Oceania-to new markets in the Middle East and Europe.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:80OCE
Date:Jul 9, 2019
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