The Campbell Soup Company (also known as Campbell’s) bought Australian biscuit and snack food brand giant Arnott’s 21 years ago. With the recent announcement that Campbell’s international arm would be pursuing divestitures, Arnott’s is once again for sale.
Campbell’s announced the move as part of their 2022 business targets, saying the sale would allow it to focus and improve its company’s core business and significantly reduce debt.
But is a biscuit just a biscuit? Or is it also a snack?
This question could soon be pondered by competition regulators as a $US3 billion auction of biscuit market leader Arnott’s and Campbell Soup Company’s other international operations is drawing to a close. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has intervened several times in the biscuit and snack markets in the past to ensure markets remain competitive.
If Mondelez triumphs over other bidders such as private equity firm KKR and Italian chocolate maker Ferrero – it would emerge with about 70% of the biscuit market, states the Australian Financial Review. If a player with existing assets in the industry is proposed as the buyer ACCC will likely review the proposed transaction to assess if there are any competition issues – and a decision may just hinge on the definition of Arnott’s being a ‘snack maker’ rather than a ‘biscuit maker’.
Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners were engaged to handle the divestiture process, which will see Campbell’s take a more North American focused approach, leaving many of its foreign brands available for others to buy.
Arnott’s Australia is currently based in Sydney and employs about 2400 Australians, and more in New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan.