Australia’s CHAMP creates new foods platform

The Sydney-based private equity firm has created Manassen Foods from the acquisition of four Australian and New Zealand branded foods distributors.

CHAMP Private Equity (CHAMP), a Sydney-headquartered buyout firm focused on Australia and New Zealand, has created a new foods group from the acquisition of four companies.

CHAMP has established Manassen Foods through the acquisition of Manassen Foods Australia (MFA), an Australian importer and distributor of brands such as Laughing Cow, Mini Babybel and McVities Biscuits; noodles and pro-biotic drinks supplier Great Southern Foods; New Zealand’s Hutchinsons; and canned fish food distributor King Oscar.

No deal terms were disclosed but CHAMP said that Manassen Foods will have combined revenues in excess of A$250 million per annum (€150 million; $181 million) and over 350 employees. The business is expected to double revenues within three years to A$500 million and will seek a listing.

CHAMP will hold a 51 percent stake in Manassen Foods, with the remainder owned by MFA owner, Roy Manassen, and management.

“Several possible add-on acquisitions have already been identified and negotiations are progressing,” CHAMP director Cameron Buchanan told PEO. Buchanan disclosed that CHAMP is looking at half a dozen more food companies, and is at varying stages of discussions with each of them.

Buchanan said that the roll-up strategy fitted in with CHAMP’s recognition that “we need to create our own deals in this [private equity] industry, and food has been a sector we’ve been looking at for a few years. The food industry is also ripe for consolidation”.

CHAMP invested in the transaction through CHAMP II, which closed A$950 million last August. The private equity firm was formed as a joint venture between US mid-market buyout firm Castle Harlan and Australian Mezzanine Investments in 2000.

Baker and McKenzie and PricewaterhouseCoopers advised CHAMP on the Manassen Foods transaction.