A spokeswoman from the Ministry of Commerce publicly declared in the recent, that the Ministry has officially accepted the notification on Nestlé’s acquisition of Hsu Fu Chi. If the Ministry turns on the green light for this filing it could be one of the biggest foreign takeovers of a Chinese undertaking historically.
Founded in 1866 by Henri Nestlé in Vevey, Switzerland, Nestlé is the world’s leading Nutrition, Health and Wellness company. Nestlé’s product lineup covers from baby food, bottled water, cereals, chocolate & confectionery, coffee, culinary, chilled & frozen food, dairy, drinks to food service, healthcare nutrition, ice cream, petcare, sport nutrition, and further to weight management.
Hsu Fu Chi is China’s largest listed confectionery company, with more than 16,000 sales outlets and 100 sales affiliates. In connection to its revenue, the first quarter of 2011 alone was Rmb1.51bn ($234m). Hsu Fu Chi focuses itself on chocolates, pastries and other sweets markets, and particularly is famous for a breakfast bar called Sachima. It should be recognized that Hsu Fu Chi already developed into a national brand within two decades. Voices from different communities, hence, expressed their worry that this event may ignite nationalist outcries just as it did with Coca-Cola’s negotiations with Huiyuan.
From a legal point and preliminary view, this concentration may bring about many anticompetitive effects. Firstly, both Nestlé and Hsu Fu Chi are strong market players in Chinese market with regard to their own products, respectively. (Without exact and concrete market share statistics though). Secondly, there is horizontal overlap between the two “Mr big”, namely, on the product market of confectionery. In a further consideration, the occurrence of penetrating effects between different markets of Nestlé and Hsu Fu Chi cannot be excluded from concerns in any means. Therefore, Nestlé’s action also triggered a school of worries that it may encounter the same judgment as Coca-Cola (KO) and juice maker China Huiyuan Juice Group in 2009.
As far as the author concerned, nevertheless, Hsu Fu Chi harbors still the hope of being cleared given that the following grounds:
Firstly, Hsu Fu Chi has not such a powerful market position as Coca cola has in consideration of the situation of confectionary market. (6.6% in 2009) Besides, it has been seen that the trend of mergers and acquisitions in China’s confectionery industry recent years has facilitated cooperation in many creative levels, and accordingly inflamed more fierce competition and more pressure on local players. Consequently, concerned acquisition here also give rise to many precompetitive effects on the relevant market.
All in all, how the Ministry assess and balance the concentration at issue is still of full suspicion.