Yildiz to sell Godiva Asia-Pacific licenses to MBK Partners

A worker prepares chocolates inside a Godiva Chocolatier store on Fifth Avenue in New York, US (Bloomberg)

ISTANBUL: Yildiz, a Turkish food conglomerate, agreed to sell Asia-Pacific retail and distribution licenses for its Godiva chocolate brand to a North Asian buyout firm.

The company, which also owns McVitie’s biscuits, will sell the licenses for Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand to MBK Partners, it said in a statement.

MBK will operate the licenses indefinitely. The amount paid wasn’t disclosed, though people familiar with the matter said last month the assets could fetch as much as US$1.5 billion.

Yildiz will also sell Godiva’s Brussels production plant to MBK. It will still own the chocolate brand in the four markets.

MBK Partners was shortlisted for the licenses alongside Baring Private Equity Asia, CVC Capital Partners and Marunouchi Capital, an investment arm of Japan’s Mitsubishi, the people familiar with the matter said last month.

Yildiz is selling assets under the terms of a US$6.5 billion loan restructuring agreement.

Godiva’s Japan unit, with 2017 sales of about US$350 million, is the largest of the businesses up for sale, people familiar said in November.

Yildiz bought Godiva over a decade ago from Campbell Soup for US$850 million.

Godiva was founded in Belgium more than 90 years ago and has a presence in more than 100 countries.

Deutsche Bank AG was sole financial adviser to MBK Partners, while Morgan Stanley advised Yildiz on the sale.

Proceeds from the sale of the Asian assets will go toward Yildiz Holding’s debt restructuring and to help Godiva expand in other markets, Nurtac Ziyal Afridi, chief global strategy and M&A officer, said in an interview.

Godiva has a target of growing its sales “five times in five years” from more than US$1 billion in 2018, she said.