China s Bright eats up Mundella

China's Bright Food Group has taken a big bite to satisfy its insatiable appetite for WA dairy assets, buying the Hector family's four-decade old Mundella Foods business.

Details of the deal have not been made public and Peter and Anne Hector, the one-time dairy farmers who set up Mundella in Mundijong, yesterday declined to comment.

But industry speculation has been rife for months that Mundella had been for sale and records lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission reveal significant management changes last month, including the appointment of directors from Manassen Foods, the Sydney business with a rich heritage controlled by Bright Food.

Three years ago, Bright Food paid $530 million for a 75 per cent stake in Manassen, which already had a strong presence in WA through its ownership of Margaret River Dairy Company and Fremantle's gourmet olive group Don Vica.

Mundella, which began life in 1972 when the Hector family used surplus milk to make dairy products and supply local shops, does not publish its financial reports.

It owns one of WA's best-known dairy brands and has secured broad distribution of its yoghurts and cheeses through the State's supermarkets and specialty food stores.

Mundella's takeover continues the rush of corporate activity in WA's agricultural sector.

There remains widespread expectation the family-owned Harvey Fresh, one of WA's three big milk producers alongside Brownes and Lion, will be sold to Parmalat.

There is also ongoing speculation the private equity-owned Harvey Beef is about to be sold, with Japanese interests and the family-owned Craig Mostyn Group considered possible suitors.

Bright Food has been on an aggressive acquisition push.

In 2012, it purchased British cereal maker Weetabix for £1.2 billion and four years ago picked up a 51 per cent stake in New Zealand dairy producer Synlaid for $US58 million.

The West Australian

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