Americana suspends shares as it confirms takeover talks

By Eliot Beer

- Last updated on GMT

Americana suspends shares as it confirms takeover talks

Related tags Kuwait

Shares in Kuwait Food Company, better known as Americana, have been suspended at the firm’s request, as the company confirms it is in discussion with potential buyers.

After months of rumours, this filing with the Kuwait Stock Exchange is the first official sign from Americana it is the subject of takeover talks. Confirmation came in the form of a letter from the investment vehicle of the Kharafi family, owners of 66.8% of Americana, which said it was reviewing options regarding its investment portfolio, according to the stock exchange filing.

Savola in the running

Saudi Arabia food producer Savola Group is widely tipped to be a lead candidate to buy out the Kharafis’ stake. Last month the Kuwait Stock Exchange suspended Americana’s shares when Savola said it was in the running to buy a stake in the company, but trading was resumed after Americana denied the story.

Savola’s shares rose 1.5% on the Saudi exchange following news of Americana’s shares being suspended. Savola has been restructuring its operations this year to focus more on its core food business in the Middle East, and has been in talks to sell off its packaging division, among others.

Bloomberg said KKR & Co and CVC Capital Partners are also in the running with a joint bid for the Kuwaiti firm, along with TPG Capital Management. It first reported a possible bid from the investment firms earlier in the year, following the Kharafis’ announcement in April they were considering a sale of their Americana stake.

Healthy profits

Away from the months of takeover rumours, Americana has seen bumper profits so far this year, with half-year income to the end of June of US$107.5m, up 9.7% on the year before. Its first-half sales were up 7.8% at US$1.63bn.

The firm is one of the largest food providers in the Middle East, operating 23 restaurant brands, including KFC, Pizza Hut and TGI Friday’s. It also sells frozen food under the Americana brand, along with brands such as California Garden and Farm Frites.

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