CPGI, Singapore’s GIC acquire Shakey’s PH

LOCAL tuna canner Century Pacific Group Inc. (CPGI) has partnered with Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC Private Ltd. to acquire the Philippine franchise holder of US-based popular pizza chain Shakey's.

In a statement, CPGI said it is acquiring International Family Food Services Inc., operator of Shakey's pizza chain in the Philippines which, in turn, is owned by the Prieto family.

Under the purchase agreement, a new entity to be owned by CPGI and GIC will acquire the majority interest of the pizza business from the Prieto family. The Prieto family, under the deal, will continue to hold a minority stake in Shakey's.

CPGI is the holding company for the diversified business interests of the Po family and the parent firm of listed Century Pacific Food Inc. whose portfolio of brands include Century Tuna, Argentina Corned Beef, Swift Meats, 555 Sardines, and Birch Tree Milk.

This is the second time the Po family-led CPGI has partnered with GIC. The Singapore wealth fund acquired from CPGI a 10-percent stake in Philippine-listed Century Pacific Food, Inc. in May 2014.

The buyout will also include Bakemasters Inc., the supplier of bakery products to Shakey's and other food service customers, including the local franchise for Project Pie, a US artisan pizza restaurant chain.

CPGI did not disclose the amount of the transaction but said that the Prieto family was advised by Maybank ATR Kim Eng, while Evercore acted as exclusive financial adviser to CPGI.

Christopher Po, president of CPGI, said that with the acquisition of Shakey's, they are confident that they will benefit from the country's fast-growing restaurant industry.

"We are excited about this opportunity to invest in Shakey's as we are believers in the potential of the continued growth of the Philippine middle class," Po said.

CPGI is also the exclusive holder of the local franchise for Yoshinoya, a Japanese fast food chain introduced in the country in 2001.

Meanwhile, GIC is a leading global investment firm with over $100 billion in assets under management. Established in 1981 to secure the financial future of Singapore, the firm manages Singapore's foreign reserves.

"We are big believers in the power of the Shakey's brand, which is one of those iconic names blessed with a strong management team and solid operational track record throughout its more than 40 years history in the country," Po added.

Shakey's Pizza was established in 1954 and has been recognized as the first franchise pizza chain in the US. Its signature products include its thin crust pizza, potato mojos and fried chicken.

As of the end of last year, there were almost 170 Shakey's stores nationwide, including 60 large stand-alone formats with high visibility on major roads.

"I am confident that our selection process for a buyer has resulted in our finding a group that will fit with the company's business, culture, and heritage. Though the acquisition will result in new owners, the iconic brand, inviting store layouts, and trademark customer service will remain intact and continue to be key business priorities moving forward," IFFSI chairman Leo Prieto Jr. said.