British cereal brand Weetabix is being sold to US consumer group Post Holdings for £1.4bn.

A spokesperson for Weetabix’s current owner, Chinese-based Bright Group, confirmed the sale today. Spokesperson Pan Jianjun was reported to have said:

“This is part of our internationalisation strategy. Selling assets enables us to better expand. Going forward Bright will stick to our overseas push.”

Bright has owned Weetabix for the past five years after it bought a 60 percent stake in the company in 2012, in a deal that valued it at £1.2bn. At the time, it was the largest deal done by a Chinese company in the food and drink industry.

Weetabix’s chief executive Giles Turrell has said the acquisition demonstrates the strength of the cereal’s brand.

“Today’s deal is great news for the team at Weetabix and all those who love our brands. The past five years have seen us increase our branded sales at home and overseas. Post is a leader within its markets and shares our commitment to providing great tasting nutritious products for the whole family. I’m confident they will help us open doors for continued expansion,” said Turrell.

The news that Weetabix is being sold isn’t all that surprising after it was leaked in December last year that Bright had hired Goldman Sachs to sell the cereal brand.

According to Reuters, who broke the original story, Bright had struggled to crack the Chinese market, failing to encourage the country’s residents to choose cereal over hot breakfasts. As well, Weetabix hasn’t really grown in the UK market since 2012; though it still makes up a major part of the breakfast market, Bright hasn’t managed to make Weetabix grow anymore.

According to research by Statista, Weetabix is the third most popular cereal brand in the UK, behind Kellogg’s and Nestle.

Weetabix’s new owner, Post Holdings, owns many cereal brands in the US including Grape Nutes, Golden Crips and Bran Flakes. Presumably, it will use the new acquisition to take on the US-owned Kellogg’s which remains one of the US’s top brands.

According to research by global market intelligence firm Transparency Market Research, the global cereals market is expected to be worth $432bn in 2019.

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