United Biscuits sold in £2 billion Turkish deal

McVitie’s and Jaffa Cakes maker United Biscuits – formed 66 years ago by the merger of two Scottish family businesses – is to be swallowed up by Turkish food conglomerate Yildiz Holdings in a deal believed to be worth £2 billion.
Yildiz Holdings will now own Jaffa Cakes. Picture: PAYildiz Holdings will now own Jaffa Cakes. Picture: PA
Yildiz Holdings will now own Jaffa Cakes. Picture: PA

Yildiz was reported to have prevailed against rival bids from Burton’s, which operates a major site in Edinburgh, and America’s Kellogg’s. It said the deal, under which existing management at United would remain in place, would form the world’s third largest biscuit maker.

United – whose well-known brands include Jacob’s, Twiglets, Mini Cheddars, and Carr’s – was put up for sale by private equity owners Blackstone and PAI Partners. Based in Hayes, Middlesex, it employs around 7,100 people with about 4,600 in the UK at sites including Glasgow, Carlisle, Halifax, Liverpool, Leicestershire. London and Manchester.

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Yildiz, which also owns Belgium’s Godiva Chocolate and America’s De Met’s Candy Company, said it had a strong record building on brands.

The company has minimal sales and no manufacturing in the UK but a strong presence in North America, the Middle East and North Africa, as well as China and Japan. It said it would try to drive growth for United Biscuits by using its worldwide distribution network.

Chairman Murat Ulker said the deal opened up significant opportunities for further growth. He added: “We want to grow United Biscuits to be a global player as part of Yildiz.

“This will include enhancing its position in the UK, where Yildiz currently has minimal presence, so we will continue to invest in the UK and Europe”

The acquisition is the latest chapter in a two-century history of the biscuit maker. It was formed in 1948 with the merger of two Scottish family businesses – Edinburgh’s McVitie & Price and Glasgow’s MacFarlane Lang – dating back to the early 19th century.

McVitie’s had begun producing the Digestive biscuit in 1892, adding chocolate in 1925. The Jaffa Cake began life in 1927. During the First World War, the firm was asked by the government to use its knowledge and production facilities to supply “iron ration” plain biscuits.

The firm expanded at home and abroad, with acquisitions including Terry’s of York – later sold. In 2000 it was bought by Finalrealm, a consortium of investors. Blackstone and PAI bought United for £1.6bn in 2006.

Yildiz, founded in Istanbul in 1944, describes itself as the largest food and beverage company in Turkey. #


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