Chinese group pays $239m for Australian vitamin firm

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Chinese group pays $239m for Australian vitamin firm
Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Holding Co Ltd and private equity firm Primavera Capital is to buy Australian vitamin manufacturer Vitaco Holdings for US$239m.

The acquisition follows last September’s deal when Hong Kong-listed Biostime International Holdings snapped up fellow Australian vitamin maker Swisse Wellness for around US$1bn.

Both deals have been spurred by strong demand in China, where the vitamins and supplements industry is predicted to top US$20bn by 2018. 

Vitaco’s news owners are paying US$1.71 per share, a 28% premium to their closing price on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Shares in Vitaco, which owns brands such as Nutra-Life, Wagner and Abundant Earth, have dipped by 40% from their peak of US$2.46 last November, in the month after it listed.

Vita's chairman, Greg Richards, said ongoing volatile macroeconomic conditions and regulatory uncertainty in China meant the deal was in the best interests of the company. 

Shanghai Pharma said in a statement it would acquire 60% stake in the firm, with Primavera taking the remaining 40%.

The firm was originally interested in buying Swisse Wellness last year, but lost out to Biostime. Swisse remains based in Melbourne, with a head office in Collingwood, but 83% of the company is now in Chinese hands.

Last month FoodNavigator-Asia reported how strong demand​ for healthcare products and growing recognition of overseas brands have been driving more Chinese companies to find overseas corporate targets.

Free-trade deals between Australia and China are making such transactions more attractive, while the slowdown in the domestic market is encouraging Chinese outfits to seek growth abroad.

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