Universal Robina Corp. (URC)—controlled by billionaire Lance Gokongwei and his siblings—has agreed to buy Malaysia’s Munchy Food Industries from private equity firm CVC Capital Partners for 1.9 billion ringgit ($454 million) as the Philippine company expands its footprint across Southeast Asia.
The acquisition will add value to URC’s international product portfolio and boost its market position in Malaysia to become the country’s leading biscuits manufacturer, Irwin C. Lee, president and CEO of URC said in a statement on Friday. The transaction is expected to be completed next month.
Established in 1991, Munchy’s is Malaysia’s No. 1 biscuit brand and its products are distributed across 50 countries globally. It offers products across all key biscuit segments including Munchy’s Cream Crackers, Lexus Cream Sandwich, Oat Krunch, Muzic Wafer, and Choc-O cookies.
“Munchy’s, with its strong brands, talented organization, and operational excellence, is a great strategic fit with URC,” Lee said. “Together, we will be able to further expand the footprint of URC and Munchy’s brands and unlock growth synergies in Malaysia as well as across the ASEAN region.”
The acquisition comes after URC agreed in August to sell its remaining 60% stake in Unisnack ANZ to its joint venture partner Intersnack Group, exiting the Australia and New Zealand snack food business and focusing on Southeast Asia. Financial details weren’t disclosed at the time of the announcement.
Following the completion of the divestment in October, URC said this month that it will book an exceptional gain of $250 million from the sale of Unisnack in its full-year results. In the nine months ended September 30, the company reported that net income rose 38% to 11.2 billion pesos ($222.4 million) compared to the previous year, bolstered by tax benefits and proceeds from sale of idle land. Sales rose 3% to 102.6 billion pesos during the period as the lingering impact of the Covid-19 pandemic tempered consumer demand.
URC—known for its homegrown Jack ‘n Jill snacks in the Philippines—has a strong presence across Southeast Asia, generating sales of 133 billion pesos in 2020, with more than 14,000 employees across the region. The company was founded by the late billionaire John Gokongwei in 1954 as a corn starch factory. Apart from manufacturing snacks, URC has interests in instant noodles, beverages, and agro-industrial commodities.
After Gokongwei passed away in 2019, his six children—Lance, Robina, Lisa, Faith, Hope and Marcia—inherited his fortune. The siblings had a combined net worth of $4.1 billion, placing them at No. 4 on the list of the Philippines’ 50 Richest when it was last published in September this year. Their fortune is derived largely from stakes held in JG Summit, which has interests in airlines, telecom, banking, food, power and property.