Vaasan pulled in net sales of €415m ($481m) in 2013. It operates across Finland, Sweden, Norway and the Baltic region with a number of well-known brands, including Finn Crisp. Lantmännen already owns 8% of the shares in Vaasan.
Werner Devinck, CEO of Lantmännen Unibake, said the full buyout of Vaasan would expand the company’s geographical presence but also portfolio, thanks to different product specialties.
“[Vaasan] is a growing and profitable business and we see that it is especially active in the Finland and Baltics area, so we see some increased opportunities there,” he said.
Vaasan’s specialization in crisp bread products also held expansion promise, Devinck said, as it branched away from Lantmännen’s traditional business of fresh and frozen baked goods and pastries.
“Crisp bread is a growing business. We see, for instance, that in the UK there is an increasing interest for crisp breads and that gives us additional opportunities.”
Strengthening amid competition
Devinck said these strengths were particularly helpful amid an increasingly competitive market.
“We complement each other in many aspects – in products and channels, for example. We believe competition is increasing and is coming from inside and outside the region – that’s quite clear… And we believe we can enhance our position with this acquisition.
“…We want to improve our position with a broader product range, new product concepts and a larger new product development and innovation effort to benefit our customers and consumers,” he said.
The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval, expected by mid-2015.
“For the time being, we remain independent; we remain competitors until that approval,” Devinck said.