25 November 2019: Lion CEO Stuart Irvine today announced that Kirin Holdings and Lion have reached an agreement to sell the Lion Dairy & Drinks business to the China Mengniu Dairy Company Limited (Mengniu Dairy) for AUD $600 million. The sale includes all white milk, milk-based beverages, yoghurt, juice and water ice brands and assets. It also includes Lion Dairy & Drinks’ International business, and Dairy & Drinks’ share of the joint ventures Vitasoy Australia Products and Capitol Chilled Foods Australia and Dairy & Drinks’ licensing agreement for the Yoplait brand.
The sale is subject to ACCC and Foreign Investment Review Board approvals and other standard closing conditions. Once completed, this sale, together with the sale of the specialty cheese business to Saputo Dairy Australia for AUD $280 million (announced in April 2019 and finalised in October 2019), will represent a full divestment of the Dairy & Drinks business.
“When we announced the decision to sell the Dairy & Drinks business last year, we made clear our intention to identify the best future ownership arrangements for the Dairy & Drinks business. Our aim throughout has been to ensure that both Dairy & Drinks and the Lion business are ideally positioned for growth – with the right people, assets and investment behind their respective strategies,” said Stuart Irvine.
“After reaching an agreement to sell the Specialty Cheese business to Saputo on a standalone basis, we took some time to carefully assess all options for the balance of the Dairy & Drinks business that would best deliver on our objectives.
“We believe that Mengniu Dairy, a specialty dairy player, is an ideal owner to take Dairy & Drinks forward, given its track record of investing in the Australian dairy industry, together with its global reach and deep capabilities. Bringing the businesses together will help drive Mengniu Dairy’s growth in the Australian domestic market, while also accelerating Dairy & Drinks’ aspirations in South East Asia and China. In addition, Dairy & Drinks will benefit from access to leading-edge dairy research and development capability and further investment as part of the Mengniu business.
“The full divestment of the Dairy & Drinks business will ensure it has an owner that is well placed to grow the business over the long term, while also accelerating Lion’s pivot to becoming a leading global adult drinks business. We are very confident that today’s announcement best positions both Lion and the Dairy & Drinks business to move forward and reach their full potential in the years ahead,” Irvine concluded.
Lion has been advised by Deutsche Bank as financial adviser, with King & Wood Mallesons as legal adviser. Greenhill & Co Australia have acted as independent financial adviser to Lion.
Lion’s alcohol businesses in Australia and New Zealand, and its global Lion Little World Beverages business is not affected by the Dairy & Drinks sale process.
Lion Dairy & Drinks forms part of the broader Lion Group –a leading beverage and food company with a portfolio that includes many of Australasia’s favourite brands in beer, wine and dairy.
The Dairy & Drinks business employs around 2,300 people across Australia with some people based in Singapore, Malaysia and China. The portfolio includes Dairy Farmers, Pura, Dare, Farmers Union, Yoplait, Daily Juice, The Juice Brothers and Berri.
Dairy & Drinks’ core activities in Australia are the manufacture, marketing, sales and distribution of white milk, flavoured milks, fresh dairy foods, and fruit juices. The Australian manufacturing footprint span 11 sites including milk, yoghurt and juice facilities.
The business also has a joint venture with Vitasoy International Holdings, Vitasoy Australia Products, which manufactures, markets and sells plant-based products under the Vitasoy brand. There is also a joint venture with Bega Cheese called Capital Chilled Foods Australia which manufactures in the ACT and markets and sells products under the Canberra Milk brand. Under Licence from Sodima, Lion Dairy & Drinks also manufactures, markets and sells yoghurt and dairy desserts under the Yoplait brand in Australia. We also have the licence to sell and market the Yoplait brand in select South East Asian markets.
Lion Dairy & Drinks partners with 280 dairy farmers and 85 fruit growers across Australia.
Tegan Flanagan – External Relations Director, Lion
Email: Tegan.Flanagan@lionco.com | mobile: +61 419 949 767
Elise Gare – External Relations Director, Lion Dairy & Drinks
Email: Elise.Gare@lionco.com | mobile: +61 437 306 437