Pluto Rising, the investment vehicle of the existing shareholder and chief executive officer of Viz Branz Holdings, Ben Chng, has entered into a strategic partnership with Asia Food Growth Fund. Under the definitive agreements announced on November 17, Pluto has agreed to sell a majority ownership position in Viz Branz to Asia Food Growth Fund.
Asia Food Growth Fund is an investment platform primarily focused on capturing the growth and market opportunities of Asia’s highly fragmented food sector. It is jointly managed and co-invested by China Resources Capital Management, global alternative investments manager Investcorp, and Fung Strategic Holdings, a member of Fung Investments, which is the private investment arm of the families of Victor Fung and William Fung, the controlling owners of the Fung Group.
Over the last 30 years, Viz Branz has built market leading positions with a portfolio of over 10 brands in China and Southeast Asia, including the popular and iconic Gold Roast, Calsome, Royal Myanmar Tea and Cafe 21 brands. Today, Viz Branz has an established position in the sizeable China cereals market, which is worth over US$1 billion and forecast to grow at 7% per annum to reach US$1.4 billion by 2024.
With the additional resources and expertise from both the Asia Food Growth Fund and Investcorp, Viz Branz is well-positioned to accelerate its growth plans and pursue new business opportunities across China and Southeast Asia, while maintaining its dedication to product innovation and quality.
Credit Suisse (Singapore) and Maybank Kim Eng Securities acted as joint financial advisers to Pluto. Rajah and Tann Singapore acted as transaction counsel to Pluto.
Chng, who will maintain a significant ownership stake in Viz Branz, says joining forces with Investcorp, China Resources and Fung Investments is an important milestone for the company’s evolution and will unlock significant opportunities for its business. “Through our new partnership, Viz Branz will have access to additional resources and expertise that we believe will accelerate our growth plans and enable us to flourish for many years to come,” he points out.
Investcorp co-CEO and Asia Food Growth Fund investment committee chairman Hazem Ben-Gacem notes Viz Branz is well-positioned for expansion through increasing distribution in China and other parts of Southeast Asia, delivering product innovation and investing in the company’s operational and multi-channel capabilities as well as through add-on acquisitions. “We believe that the company’s market leading positions could be leveraged to create a sizeable branded, packaged F&B platform in China and Southeast Asia,” he adds.
Asia Food Growth Fund chairman and CIO of China Resources Capital Tim Zhang says the transaction underlines their focus on investing in growing categories where they can leverage their resources and expertise building successful multinational brands in Greater China and Asia to enhance value. “We believe that China Resources, Fung Strategic Holdings and Investcorp are ideal partners to support Viz Branz’s expansion across China and Southeast Asia as consumers increasingly prioritize convenient, quality products,” he adds.
The acquisition of Viz Branz represents the Asia Food Fund’s second investment.