parle: Parle is hungry for Polish biscuit maker dr Gerard

Parle Products, India’s largest biscuits company, is in talks with private equity firm Bridgepoint to consider buying dr Gerard, the second largest biscuits producer in Poland, said people aware of the matter.

The Polish biscuits maker, which was once part of Groupe Poult of France, was bought by EU middle-market-focussed Bridgepoint for an undisclosed amount in October 2013. The company is currently valued at ₹1,000-1,200 crore, though one of the people said it could be as high as ₹200-300 million (about ₹1,600-2,400 crore).

Bridgepoint appointed Houlihan Lokey for the dr Gerard sale earlier this year but the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and the geopolitical volatility in Europe slowed the process considerably. There is still no guarantee if Parle’s negotiations will lead to a transaction, the people said.


Bridgepoint declined to comment on the specifics but confirmed that a formal sale process was ongoing. Parle did not comment.

“There were some initial talks held and it (Parle) has not progressed into anything significant yet,” said a senior official close to the development, seeking anonymity.

dr Gerard, which was launched in 1993, has a portfolio of over 200 biscuits and salty snacks and two production facilities in Poland. Its core business is in cookies and chocolate products. Its products are exported to 30 countries.

The initial discussions with Parle, said the people, were focussed on contract manufacturing opportunities but then Bridgepoint decided to put the company on the block.

If successful, this will be the first acquisition by Parle, a conservative company with focus on building brands instead of buying them.

“Biscuit makers are all trying to upgrade their offering through premiumisation. Parle is still predominantly a mass brand and an acquisition will help accessing a ready-made portfolio. dr Gerald has been a target for long because it is PE-owned but Parle has never bought anything in India, leave alone cross-border. So it will be interesting,” said a Mumbai-based investment banker who specialises in consumer deals. “They certainly have the balance sheet but historically been a very conservative group.”

For a record 10 years in row, Parle has topped the rankings for most chosen FMGG brands, according to a report by Kantar India. It is followed by Amul, Britannia, Clinic Plus and Tata Consumer Products in the latest 2021 report, which ranks the most chosen FMCG brands based on consumer reach points.

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