Vegemite is set to return to Australian ownership after dairy company Bega announced it would buy most of Mondelez International’s Australia and New Zealand grocery and cheese business.
Bega, in a note to the Australian Stock Exchange, said it would use bank debt to fund the $460 million acquisition.
The deal does not include Philadelphia products but will see Australian ownership of Kraft-branded products, including peanut butter, cheeses and mayonnaise.
The statement said the company would use “near-term corporate opportunities to pay down debt”.
“This acquisition will be value accretive in its own right, strategically important and company making,” executive chairman Barry Irvin said.
“These iconic brands alongside the Bega brand are strong building blocks to enable Bega Cheese to become a great consumer goods business.”
Shares in Bega immediately jumped 10 per cent when trading on the ASX opened on Thursday morning.
Late last year, shares in Bega hit a 52-week low as investors continued to offload shares in the dairy processor.
It came after the company admitted sales of its infant formula to Asia had not lived up to expectation.
Mondelez is a global giant in the confectionary, food and beverage sector.
It owns some of the world’s most famous brands including Cadbury, Nabisco and Ritz.
The deal will see Bega takeover Mondelez’s Port Melbourne factory.
Mondelez will retain ownership of the Cadbury brand and its Hobart factory.
— Sen. Malcolm Roberts (@SenatorMRoberts) January 18, 2017
Asked whether Modelez would cut jobs, or consolidate manufacturing within Australia, vice-president of the Australia, New Zealand and Japan divisions of the company, Amanda Banfield, told the ABC there were no plans to change those operations.
“This decision today has no impact on our snacking business, that continues as is though out Australia, New Zealand and indeed across our global business,” she said.
“I am delighted to say that as a result of today’s announcement there’ll be no resulting job losses.”
While Bega is listed in some quarters as one of the brands that comes under the umbrella of Fonterra (a New Zealand-owned multinational dairy co-operative that is responsible for almost one third of the world’s dairy exports), the Fonterra website says it does not own Bega.
“Bega is a publicly listed company, owned by shareholders. Fonterra has a proud, strong and mutually beneficial partnership with Bega centred on successful, secure license agreements,” it reads.