Food giant Kraft takes full control of Moroccan cookie maker Bimo

US food group Kraft Foods Inc (NASDAQ:KFT) said it was buying the 50% not yet owned in Moroccan cookie maker Bimo from investor National Investment Co (SNI) for MAD1.31bn (USD152m/EUR118m), as part of its plans to expand in growing markets.

For its part, SNI said that under the full ownership of Kraft, Bimo will be able to enhance its top position in the sector and to pursue further development. The investment holding, controlled by Morocco’s royal family, will use the cash from the exit to pay down debt and to finance investment of its affiliates, it explained.

SNI is looking to focus its future growth on other sectors including tourism, telecoms and renewable energies. The company has various partnerships with French firms.
Bimo, with a share of nearly 13% of Morocco’s cookie market by sales, has two production plants employing 1,400 staff, SNI said. The company, active since 1981, generated sales of MAD831m last year.

Kraft said the transaction needs to secure regulatory approvals, without giving a timetable for completion. Reuters cited an informed source as saying it would take six months to wrap up the deal.
The US group is splitting its business into two separate listed companies, separating its North American grocery business from the global snacks operations, in a move which it sees to allow each of the businesses to freely pursue their growth.

The break-up will be completed in October 2012, after Kraft’s board cleared it in August.