Ajinomoto considers selling HK’s most popular soy sauce maker Amoy

Soy sauce in food prep. Photo: Caroline Attwood/Unsplash

Ajinomoto 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 adviser 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 $70 million to $80 million, the people said.

Ajinomoto is mulling a deal as Asian private equity firm Unitas Capital is pursuing a potential $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 ($235 million) in 2006. About two years later, it recorded an impairment loss of 13.4 billion yen ($122 million) on the goodwill of the unit.

While Amoy is the most popular soy sauce brand in Hong Kong, where it had a 36 percent market share last year, it doesn’t break into the top five in mainland China, data from Euromonitor International show. The Chinese market for soy sauce is expected to grow 28 percent to 86.2 billion yuan ($13.5 billion) in the five years to 2022, according to the data.

Amoy changed hands several times before the Japanese firm took it over, its website shows. Prior to Danone buying the business in 1991, major shareholders have included American baking giant Pillsbury, Hong Kong property tycoon Ronnie Chan’s Hang Lung Development Co. and Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd.

Also Read:

PE firm Unitas Capital looking to sell China’s wasabi pioneer for $600m

Bloomberg

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.