KENYA – British multinational Weetabix Food Company has bought a controlling stake in Weetabix East Africa from Kenyan businessman Ahsan Manji, who is divesting from the firm.
The UK firm took over 50.11 per cent shareholding, with South Africa’s Pioneer Foods Group — producers of Bokomo, Ceres, Safari, Spekko and ProNutro among others — taking up the remaining 49.89 per cent stake.
Ahsan Manji is the grandson of Madatally Manji, the founder of Kenyan food manufacturing company House of Manji.
“The Manji family is honoured to have had a long- standing relationship with Weetabix dating back to 1978, and this new opportunity now means that the business has the financial muscle to scale with the backing of two large fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) businesses,” said Weetabix East Africa MD Manji.
The British cereal maker acquired Breakfast Cereal Company Limited, owned by Manji, over five years ago for an undisclosed sum to form the Weetabix East Africa Limited (WEA).
The partnership between the UK and SA units, which were formerly in direct competition with each other, will serve the regional expansion of Weetabix East Africa.
“This acquisition represents a rare opportunity for Pioneer to enter the East African market with a credible partner and profitable branded business,” said Pioneer Foods CEO Phil Roux.
“Weetabix sees this market as a strategic opportunity and is excited by the new opportunities that will arise through partnering with Pioneer Foods,” said Weetabix Group CEO Giles Turrell.
WEA has been on an expansion mode for the past two years, spending over Sh200 million to expand its Nairobi factory. The plant was opened last year.
“The partnership, which is subject to regulatory approval, is in line with part of Weetabix Food Company’s international growth strategy and is aligned to Pioneer Foods’ ambition to grow sales of the product range throughout Africa,” read the statement by Weetabix.
The Breakfast Cereal Company initially manufactured Weetabix Limited products under licence.
The company also installed a 1,000-tonne silo to improve the productivity and cater for rising demand for cereals in the region which was at 8.5 million kilograms a day up from 1.5 million kilogrammes.
The demand for breakfast cereals in Kenya alone was 2.8 million kilogrammes in 2014 up from 2.4 million kilograms the previous year.
The firm manufactures Weetabix, Weetabix Minis, Weetos, Fruit and Fibre, Branflakes and Oatibix.