Ajinomoto looking to sell HK’s no 1 soy sauce brand

HONG KONGAjinomoto Co is considering a sale of Amoy Food Ltd, the century-old company that makes Hong Kong’s most popular soy sauce brand, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Japanese seasoning company is working with an advisor to gauge potential buyers’ interest in the unit, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. A sale of Amoy, which began producing the condiment in China in 1908, could fetch about US$70 million (RM280 million) to US$80 million, the people said.

Ajinomoto is mulling a deal as Asian private-equity firm Unitas Capital is pursuing a potential US$600 million sale of another Chinese condiment producer. Jiahao Foods, which produces wasabi, chicken powder and soy sauce in China, has attracted interest from potential suitors including Hormel Foods Corp, people familiar with the matter said last month.

Deliberations on a potential sale of Amoy are at an early stage, and Ajinomoto could decide to keep the business, the people said. A representative for Ajinomoto said in response to Bloomberg queries that nothing has been decided.

Ajinomoto bought the Amoy business from Danone for roughly HK$1.8 billion (RM900 million) in 2006. About two years later, it recorded an impairment loss of ¥13.4 billion (RM536 million) on the goodwill of the unit. — Bloomberg