Turkish Delight as United Biscuits sold to Yildiz Holdings

Mouth watering news out of Turkey today (3 November 2014) as it is announced that the UK company behind McVitie’s biscuits, Jaffa Cakes, and Penguin brands has been bought out right by Turkish food group Yildiz Holdings, known for its Ulker brand, in a deal worth around £2 billion. 

The biggest biscuit group in the UK, United Biscuits had been put up for sale by its private equity owners Blackstone and PAI Partners and was attracting interest from US group Kellogg before Yildiz swooped in for the last and most satisfying bite, sealing the deal which was finalised today.  

The deal, which moves Yildiz Holdings up to number three in the world of biscuit production, is the companies first move in the UK market – they currently have a large presence in the US, China, Japan, Middle East, and North Africa. 
Jaffa Cakes

Chairman of Yildiz, Murat Ulker, said upon announcing the deal: “We want to grow United Biscuits to be a global player as part of Yildiz. This will include enhancing its position in the UK, where Yildiz currently has minimal presence.” Ulker also underlined ambition to continue investment in the UK and Europe as Yildiz looks to expand their global recognition. Yildiz Holdings has well established markets and distribution channels in the Middle East, North Africa, Far East and the US, these channels will no doubt be used to increase market share of United Biscuits' brands, where they currently have little or no presence. 

Currently, UB employs more than 7,000 people, including more than 4,500 in the UK alone, and Yildiz have announced they would look to drive growth for UB using its own established global distribution network. 

It has also been announced that the existing management team in place at United Biscuits will remain, with chief executive Martin Glenn saying: “We look forward to being part of Yildiz as we continue to fulfil our growth potential both in the UK and abroad where we are looking to expand our share of the biscuit and snacking markets and where there is huge potential for all our brands.” 

Turkey's Ulker buys United Biscuits


Why are United Biscuits an important acquisition for Yildiz? 

As well as McVitie’s, Jaffa Cakes, and Penguin, UB brands also include Jacob’s, Twiglets, Mini Cheddars, and Carr’s – and first produced the digestive biscuit back in 1892, adding chocolate in 1925. The famous Jaffa Cake was born in 1927, and during the First World War, the company was asked by the British government to supply iron ration plain biscuits. 

Yildiz was founded in 1944 by the uncle and father of Ulker, and is well known for making biscuits, chocolate, drinks, frozen foods, and dairy products; and is based in Istanbul, privately owned with estimated sales last year topping more than $7bn. 

The deal has been universally welcomed by analysts, who see the combination of both companies with complementary interests as a key move in the future of Yildiz becoming a market leader in the UK and globally. Ulker buys Godiva Chocolatier of Belgium

European brand acquisition started with Godiva Chocolatier in 2007

Acquisition of United Biscuits is an important step in Yildiz Holdings' strategy to elevate itself to the top spot of the global biscuits & confectionery market, however, it's not the first of its trophies.

In 2007, Yildiz Holdings acquired Belgium chocolate manufacturer Godiva Chocolatier in a deal worth approximately $1bn, bolstering its position in the premium chocolate sector. Godiva, which was established in Belgium in 1926, operates over 600 retail outlets in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia and is available at over 10,000 speciality retailers.

Founded in 1944 by the Ulker family, Yildiz Holdings is currently one of Turkey's largest conglomerates with established brands in biscuits, confectionary, dairy products, soft drinks and retail sectors. It operates in over 10 countries with 41,000 employees globally.  With the addition of United Biscuits, Ulker, biscuits arm of Yildiz Holdings, has moved up the ranks to the third position globally in terms of volume produced. 


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