Category: Mergers & Acquisitions

Filipino fast food chain Jollibee may take a bite of UK sandwich chain Pret A Manger

Filipino fast food restaurant chain Jollibee has been engaging in talks exploring a bid for Britain’s sandwich chain Pret A Manger, according to various sources familiar with the matter.

The valuation for the upscale sandwich chain may exceed US$1 billion, based on the sandwich chain’s 2016 core earnings of over 93 million pounds (about US$125 million).

This unsolicited offer for Pret A Manger was also derived to compete with its likely valuation from a potential listing of its private equity owner, Bridgepoint which was preparing for a New York listing later this year.

If the deal is successful, this would mark Jollibee’s biggest overseas deals to date and potentially one of the biggest ever outbound deals from the Philippines.

Jollibee’s most recent expansion move was in May through the acquisition of SuperFoods Group who owns and operates the brands Highland Coffee and noodle house Pho 24.

The pairing comes unlikely as Jollibee has a huge following in the Philippines for its fast food burgers, fried chicken, and sweet-style spaghetti.

On the other end, Pret A Manger with over 400 shops worldwide is famous for selling organic coffee and wholesome sandwiches to office workers in Britain and in cities like Hong Kong and New York.

At present, Jollibee operates the largest foodservice network in the Philippines with 2,700 restaurant outlets in the country – giving it a market valuation of US$5.2 billion.

The fast food chain, which outsells McDonald’s and KFC in the Philippines, has been starting to push into global markets to boost sales and profits through acquisition.

Jollibee has also been expanding across Southeast Asia, looking to appeal to lucrative local consumers as well as overseas Filipinos with coffee, donuts, and noodle offering.

JAS Asset acquires cafe chain Casa Lapin to set up joint venture Beans and Brown

Thai listed property developer JAS Asset Plc has bought over the trademark food and cafe chain Casa Lapin from Coffee Project Co Ltd for a price tag of 42 million baht (about US$1.27 million).

The company concluded the agreement earlier last month, whereby the high-end coffee house chain will enter into a new joint venture – Beans & Brown Co Ltd. – with JAS Asset having 60 percent ownership while 40 percent is held by Coffee Project.

In other words, three of Casa Lapin current seven branches in Bangkok will belong to Beans and Brown while the remaining four will be jointly operated by the company and its partners on a revenue-sharing basis.

Additionally, Beans and Browns plans to open three more Casa Lapins in the central business districts this year and at least another 10 in 2018 including its first flagship store at a premium shopping complex in the heart of Bangkok which will cover at least 200 square meters.

“Coffee Project was very successful in building the Casa Lapin brand,” said Suphot Wanna, the Chief Executive Officer of JAS Asset Plc. “It is clearly different from other cafe franchises.”

“Casa Lapin is famous for its quality coffee beans, as well as neat coffee-making, and attention to every step from roasting to brewing and other stages of preparation.”

Moving forward, Casa Lapin is looking to expand its presence to Asian cities in the region such as Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Taipei and Singapore.

But ultimately, this move for JAS Asset is aimed at diversifying JAS Asset’s portfolio and springboard the firm to enter the food and cafe market that it has long expressed interest.

“We target our revenue will grow from 60 million baht this year to 180 million baht ($5.4 million) in 2018 and 360 million baht ($10.87 million) in 2020 and get it listed on the stock market in the same year,” Suphot said.

At present, 70 per cent of Casa Lapin’s revenue comes from coffee and beverage sales and the rest comes from food and bakery. It plans to generate more revenue from selling souvenirs in the future.

Temasek takes 30% stake in Italian fashion brand Stone Island

Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek is set to acquire a 30 percent stake in Italian fashion retailer Stone Island, according to its parent firm Sportswear Company S.p.A.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but it is understood that the capital will help the men’s sportswear brand to expand its reach internationally.

“I am truly satisfied for this partnership with one of the world’s most established investment companies,” said the Sportswear Company’s founder Carlo Rivetti. “I particularly appreciate Temasek’s investment strategy to participate in companies with strong growth potential, know-hows, and identity.”

For Temasek, this comes at a time when its divestment is outpacing its investment. Increasingly, the firm is under pressure for higher investment returns which has led it to make larger bets and adding more unlisted stocks to its portfolio.

However, this is not the first fashion investment for the company. Last year, Temasek has participated in the US$110 million Series F funding round for Farfetch, as well as acquired a 26.8 percent stake in Italian fashion firm Moncler.

Founded in 1982 by Massimo Osti, Stone Island’s famous jackets were the result of an experiment of creating the fabric for military jackets. The company was acquired in 1983 by Rivetti’s family firm GFT which was one of the largest apparel manufacturers in Italy.

It later became Sportswear Company and developed its brand Stone Island to become a mixture of technical wear, high-fashion, and streetwear. The company even has collaborations with Supreme and Nike, as well as stockists like Kith.

Meanwhile, the company reports revenues for 2016 to be €109 million (about US$129 million ), that is a 26 percent increase compared to last year at €87 million (about US$97 million)

With this acquisition, Temasek agrees to guarantee the continuity and the autonomy of the Stone Island management team, which according to Rivetti is essential to successfully face and overcome the challenges for the fashion sectors.

“I wanted to both capitalize on the work done in 35 years and to team with a partner to face the increasingly complex opportunities proposed by the markets,” Rivetti explained.

“I am confident that the brand Stone Island will keep on with increased success its development, being able to count on a competent and attentive partner to the specifics of our business and with strong international relations,” he added.

Jollibee gains control over SuperFoods Group ahead of Vietnam IPO

Philippine’s homegrown fast food giant Jollibee Foods Corp (JFC) said on Thursday that its subsidiary JSF Investments Pte. Ltd has hiked its stakes in SuperFoods Group to 60 percent.

The 10 percent increase from its previous 50-50 ownership share comes from its partner in the joint venture, Viet Thai International Joint Stock Co. (VTI).

This move lies in line with the agreement dated back on November 18, 2016, which will allow JFC to include the joint venture in its financial consolidation and in turn facilitate the listing of SuperFoods Group on Vietnam’s equities market by July 2019.

“To help fund the SuperFoods’ expansion plans, Jollibee Foods Corporation will henceforth take the lead in the capital raising activities of the joint venture and will work with various financial institutions in Vietnam and other parts of Asia in this undertaking,” Jollibee said in a statement.

SuperFoods is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jollibee’s JSF Investments Pte Ltd (JSF), and Viet Thai International Joint Stock Co. (VTI) with most of its businesses in Vietnam.

The SuperFoods Group owns and operates the brands Highlands Coffee and Vietnamese noodle house Pho 24, as well as the Hard Rock Cafe franchise shops in Vietnam, Macau, and Hong Kong. At the end of March, these three brands amount for a total of 216 stores with its presence across 17 countries outside the Philippines, including Indonesia, Cambodia, and Australia.

In the next three years, the SuperFoods Group plans to open another 485 stores, mostly in Vietnam, while expanding the brands through franchising in other parts of Asia and in Australia. The company also plans to enter Malaysia as part of its expansion in Southeast Asia.

JFC plans to build a significant business in Vietnam given its potential to become a large consumer market. Like the Philippines, Vietnam has a high population at 95 million and has enjoyed robust economic growth, which reached a 6.2 percent growth last year.

The SuperFoods joint venture is one of its fastest-growing businesses, with its sales reaching US$58 million in 2016, that is up to 46 percent from the prior year, driven by the 73 percent expansion of the Highlands Coffee.

JFC operates the largest foodservice network in the Philippines. At the end of March, it had 2,684 restaurant outlets under the brands Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, Burger King, and Mang Inasal. Abroad, it operated 620 restaurants including the brands Yonghe King, Hong Zhuang Yuan, and Dunkin’ Donuts.

JFC maintains interest in joint ventures operating 611 stores worldwide. Aside from its interest in SuperFoods, it also has 40 percent ownership of US chain Smashburger and 48 percent of 12 Hotpot.

By Vivian Foo, VCNewsNetwork

Korean ST Unitas to acquire the Princeton Review

ST Unitas, Korea’s largest operator of private learning institutes on February 14 announced that it has acquired the Princeton Review, a major U.S. education service firm, as its first step toward becoming a global powerhouse in the expanding online-based exam preparation market.

“We are happy to announce that ST Unitas and the Princeton Review have become one family,” said Yoon Sung-Hyuk, ST Unitas’s CEO. “We will together build a global education platform that offers innovative, information-technology based, tailored services to our users across the globe.”

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed though predicaments according to investment bank analysts states that ST Unitas would have to pay about 100 billion won (US$87 million) to acquire the Massachusets-based platform.

Founded in April 2010, ST Unitas is the first in the industry to develop scientific studying methods based on big data from 60 subsidiary brands which are ranked number one in their respective division including Engdangi (English cram school) and Gongdangi (Civil Service Exam cram school), which utilize IT in education.

The education firm offers English, Chinese, and other foreign language courses as well as various civil-service tests in addition to a range of lectures which are available both online and offline. Consequently, ST Unitas reached over 1200 employees and annual sales of $350 million (400 billion won) in 2016.

The Princeton Review, founded in 1981, is a college admission services company offering test preparation services, tutoring, and admissions resources, online courses, and books. Besides the United States, it has sent more than 1.5 million students to elite colleges in 20 countries.

“We believe that now is the right time for us to enter the United States, the world’s largest education market. The U.S. online education industry has been expanding rapidly over the past five years,” Yoon said. “Given that the majority of IT platforms that dominate the global market, such as Facebook and Uber, were born in the United States, we decided to create our platform in the world’s largest economy. This is another reason why we decided to acquire The Princeton Review.”

Following this acquisition, the CEO said ST Unitas will take advantage of the U.S. education service firm’s vast database, its extensive overseas network as well as its knowhows on the scholastic aptitude test (SAT) and other standardised U.S. exams to become a leader in the $250 billion online education market.

“We have been successful in Korea because we work hard to offer top-quality education materials to our customers at affordable prices,” Yoon said. “What we would like to do is take this business model in cooperation with The Princeton Review to the United States and other countries. I have no doubt ST Unitas will become a top global education platform provider.”

The Princeton Review CEO Kate Walker said that in cooperation with ST Unitas, the company will continue to expand its market share and secure technology leadership in the rapidly growing online education market.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

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