Maui Capital gets nibbles for Freshmax, with sale expected by September

Private equity firm Maui Capital kicked off a sale process earlier this year

Australasian fresh produce business Freshmax has attracted interest from potential buyers and an ownership change is possible before the end of September, say sources close to the sale process.

Private equity firm Maui Capital, which acquired 60 percent of Freshmax in 2011, kicked off a sale process earlier this year for the Australian-registered and NZ-headquartered fresh fruit supplier, which has interests in South and North America, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Sources said there has been interest from potential buyers across the globe, including some with strong distribution channels of their own. Maui hasn't indicated whether it would completely exit Freshmax, which needs more capital to expand.

Freshmax imports, wholesales and distributes fresh produce including apples, pears, stonefruit, kiwifruit and avocados among other products into a wide variety of countries, including China. The total value of the company is thought to be about A$300 million.

Early reports named pan-Asian private equity firm Navis as a potential suitor, however, a spokesman said that while they won't talk directly about Freshmax due to a non-disclosure agreement, "we are not pursuing at this time". In April it snapped up a majority stake in Mainland Poultry, whose businesses include New Zealand's biggest egg producer.

The Australian newspaper today reported concerns that growth in online food shopping, dominated by Amazon, could deter any potential investors. The sources close to the deal took a contrary view, saying it signals is an uptick in consumption, which is a positive for Freshmax.


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