Thai food giant CPF buys Bellisio for US$1.1billion
THAILAND’S biggest food company, owned by the kingdom’s richest tycoon, has agreed to buy US frozen-food giant Bellisio for nearly US$1.1 billion.
Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF) hailed the acquisition of the US firm, which has a slew of popular frozen brands under its banner, as its first “entry into the world’s largest food market”.
The transaction is expected to be sealed within 180 days, CPF said.
The firm is part of Thailand’s sprawling CP Group, owned by billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, which has stakes in everything from chicken farms and convenience stores to telecom companies.
CPF hopes to use its new foothold in America to “bring greater variety of products, particularly Asian food, to US consumers”, chief executive Adirek Sripratak said.
Bellisio Foods produces and distributes frozen foods for wellknown brands like Boston Market and Chili’s.
Their new Thai owners began business as a small store in Bangkok’s Chinatown in 1921.
CPF’s products are now ubiquitous in Thailand and Mr Dhanin has been on a spending spree, buying stakes in businesses in Asia and beyond as he diversifies the company’s portfolio.
In January last year CP Group teamed up with Japanese trading house Itochu to invest $10 billion in Chinese conglomerate Citic Group.
That deal was seen as a move to help smooth access into China’s highly regulated business sector.
Mr Dhanin, who Forbes says is worth $8.9 billion, hails from Bangkok’s rich and influential Thai-Chinese community.
Together with his siblings he grew the family business into Thailand’s biggest agribusiness company, which also makes animal feed and operates a range of farms.
Mr Dhanin said in a rare interview that CPF’s cheap chicken and shrimp exports changed Japanese eating habits, while claiming to be the first foreign investor in China as it creaked open the door to its economy in 1978. –