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CJ Group to bid for Japan’s Hayashibara

CJ Group, the country’s largest food company, is bidding to take over Japan’s biggest food-additive maker, Hayashibara, reportedly in consortium with Japanese private equity firm Unison Capital.

CJ confirmed the bidding scheduled for July but declined to comment on its consortium with Unison capital.

Acquiring Hayashibara is part of CJ Group’s plan to expand into amino acids and other biochemical food markets as the target is the world’s biggest maker of food sweetener trehalose, used in frozen food and beverages.

CJ Group has reportedly offered more than 80 billion yen ($987 million) for Hayashibara. The company declined to comment on the amount.

“We’re making the bid for Hayashibara in consortium with other companies. We’re hoping to access Japanese and other global markets with the purchase,” an official at CJ Group said.
Chairman Lee Jay-hyun
Chairman Lee Jay-hyun

GCA Savvian Group, Hayashibara’s M&A advisory firm, has reportedly conducted two rounds of bids. Hayashibara recently entered a court receivership after its management failed to grow sales to match up to the increased investment, but CJ Group said it isn’t worrisome.

“Some accounting fraud was there at management level but Hayashibara’s business model is a strong one dominating the world’s food-additive market,” a CJ Group official said.

CJ Group plans to increase its overseas revenue by more than 50 percent of its total by 2013, up from the current 30 percent.

Other known bidders in the market include Gun-ei Chemical, a Japanese maker of phenolic resin, in consortium with private equity firm Polaris. Nagase & Co., a Japanese trading firm, has also been reported as a bidder.

CJ Group in May said it will spend $180 million expanding plants in China and Indonesia to produce food-additives used to make taste enhancers called nucleic acid. It plans to produce up to 23,800 tons of nucleic acid by 2013, targeting more than 42 percent of the global market share.

By Cynthia J. Kim (cynthiak@heraldcorp.com)
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