American owners put Arnott’s up for sale

Tim Tams, Iced Vovos and Monte Carlos have gone on sale.

Arnott’s has been put on the market by Campbell Soup Co, 21 years after the American food giant bought the iconic Australian brand in a deal that prompted disquiet among patriotic biscuit lovers Down Under.

The move by Campbell’s to exit its international business and refocus on core operations is part of an overall strategy to cut costs by more $US945 million ($A1.3 billion) by 2022 and to pay down debt.

Sydney-based Arnott’s employs about 2,400 people in Australia, with more in New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan.

Campbell’s has engaged Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners to conduct the sale of its Campbell International unit, which includes Arnott’s, and refrigerated good business Campbell Fresh.

The two businesses together contributed approximately $US2.1 billion of sales in the last financial year.

Campbell’s interim president and chief executive, Keith McLoughlin, said the firm had explored all options before deciding to divest the Arnott’s business.

“The board concluded that, at this time, the best path forward to drive shareholder value is to focus the company on two core businesses in the North American market with a proven consumer packaged goods business model,” Mr McLoughlin said.

The decision raises the prospect that Arnott’s could follow Vegemite in returning to Australian ownership after a lengthy period in foreign hands.

Dairy giant Bega Cheese last year bought the quintessential Aussie spread and a basket of other well-known grocery brands from US-owned Mondelez International for $A460 million.

Campbell International consists of Arnott’s and Denmark’s Kelsen Group, along with manufacturing operations in Indonesia and Malaysia, and businesses in Hong Kong and Japan.

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