This week in FMCG
From Woolworths, Cadbury, Alibaba, Capilano, Kirin, Unilever to Alibaba, take a look back what happened in the industry this week.
Supermarket giant Woolworths is facing a potential A$100m class action from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. The law firm alleges that Woolworths breached continuous disclosure obligations and engaged in misleading conduct by giving profit guidance that couldn’t be met. But the grocery said that a proposed class action by off-shore litigation funder IMF Bentham and Maurice Blackburn were previously announced on 11 April 2017. IMF Bentham announced on January 2018 that it has decided not to proceed with funding the claim as “it considered that the proposed class action did not meet its investment criteria”.
The beekeeper-owners of Capilano Honey has announced its support behind a private equity takeover bid for the Australian company. The China-focused private equity player Wattle Hill and its partner Roc Partners has proposed to takeover the Australian business. Capilano said the bid consortium members met with beekeepers in the country since the proposal was announced in August.
Japan’s beer and beverage maker Kirin Holdings is reviewing its Australian Lion Dairy and Drinks unit, which may result in the sale of the business. The Dairy and Drinks arm of the beverage company carries brands like Big M, Yoplait, Pura and King Island Dairy. “[Lion’s] turnaround phase is now complete,” Lion chief executive officer Stuart Irvine said to The Age.
Queensland police hunts for the culprit behind the strawberries with sewing needles sold at supermarkets. A Gladstone woman discovered this fruit produce with the needles when her son bit into a contaminated berry he’d taken to school in his lunch box. It came a day after consumers in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales were urged to dispose the berries they bought in the past week following three similar incidents, one in Queensland and two in Victoria.
Confectionery giant Mondelez International has decided to stockpile ingredients, confectionery and biscuits due to Brexit. Mondelez Europe president Hubert Weber told The Times they prefer a “good deal that allows the free flow of products as that would have less of an impact to the UK consumer.” A Mondelez spokeswoman said via a statement that the company is currently monitoring the political climate in the UK and the company is preparing for a number of potential outcomes.
FMCG global giant Unilever has simplified its two legal entities, NV and PLC, and decided to merge it into a single holding company called the New Unilever NV. Originally the business comprised of the separate UK PLC and Netherlands NV companies which acted jointly. Now, the two separate classes of shares will become one, but will still trade across London, Amsterdam and New York, according to a statement released by Unilever. Bloomberg reported that the company is correct in noting that a unified Unilever could have demerged its spreads business with ease, instead of selling it to private equity earlier this year.
Alibaba Group’s CEO Daniel Zhang will succeed Chinese iconic businessman Jack Ma as chairman of the board of the e-commerce giant on September 10 2019. Ma has led the e-commerce giant to success and has become known worldwide in the online business sector. Ma said that as the company marks its 19th anniversary, he is announcing his plans to leave the company but remain as the “executive chairman in the next 12 months, I will work closely with Daniel to ensure a smooth and successful transition. Thereafter, I will stay on the Alibaba board of directors until our annual shareholders meeting in 2020.”
That’s it for this week for Inside FMCG. We’ll be back on Monday morning to deliver the top headlines!