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China Calling

The sale by 3i of Mayborn, owner of Tommee Tippee baby bottles, to Chinese consumer group Jahwa for about £300m, shows the continuing interest from the East in UK brands, as well as a textbook international growth story. Brian Bollen reports.

The westward march of Chinese corporate buyers continues. Recent figures published by Dealogic showed that international acquisitions out of China reached a new record in the first half of 2016 – there were 441 cross-border transactions with a Chinese buyer, worth a total of just over $147bn. This exceeds the annual record value set in 2015 of $106bn, (from 613 deals).

Among the deals in the first half of this year was 3i’s sale of Mayborn Group to Shanghai Jahwa Group, the parent company of leading Chinese consumer products organisation Jahwa United. The Ping An Insurance Group wholly owns the Jahwa Group.

Since 3i took Mayborn private in 2006, the business has expanded and grown internationally by means of new product launches and the acquisition of two distributors. Its EBITDA has tripled during that period, to more than £25m in 2015. Its net sales have more than doubled to over £130m. International sales now represent 60% of Mayborn’s revenue.

“We very much saw the opportunity to build a truly global brand within a highly fragmented market segment,” says Alan Giddins, managing partner and co-head of private equity at 3i, who led the original transaction and sat on the Mayborn board. “Our investment in Mayborn fitted well with our investment strategy in the consumer sector, where we had previously backed and helped grow internationally a number of strong branded businesses.”

Mayborn Group’s Tommee Tippee is the numberone feeding brand in the UK and Australia. It is the fastest growing bottle brand in America, and one of the top five baby brands in the world. Its feeding, hygiene and soothing products are sold in more than 70 countries.

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