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China sovereign fund, buyout firms vying for Aussie supplement brand Nature's Care: sources

[HONG KONG] An arm of China's sovereign fund is competing with buyout firms in the bidding for Nature's Care Manufacture, as the Australian supplement brand's owner makes a second attempt at a sale, people with knowledge of the matter said. 

China Jianyin Investment, a unit of state-run China Investment Corp that's known as JIC, is among suitors invited to make binding offers for Nature's Care, according to the people. Bain Capital and Chinese private equity firm Citic Capital have also been weighing second-round bids for the Sydney-based company, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.  A sale could value Nature's Care, which is controlled by the Wu family, at about A$700 million (S$740.1 million), said the people.

Demand for health supplements in Australia has been fuelled by Chinese buyers seeking higher-quality ingredients and traceable supply chains from foreign brands after a series of safety scandals at home. The Chinese market for vitamins and dietary supplements is forecast to grow 33 per cent to 180 billion yuan (S$37.1 billion) in five years through 2022, according to Euromonitor International.

No final decisions have been reached, and other bidders could still emerge for Nature's Care, the people said. Representatives for Bain Capital and Citic Capital declined to comment, while a representative for Nature's Care didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. JIC didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Swisse Wellness Group, an Australian rival to Nature's Care, was bought by Guangzhou-based infant formula producer Health & Happiness H&H International Holdings in a 2015 deal valuing the business at about A$1.5 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The next year, a consortium including Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Holding bought Vitaco Holdings, the maker of "Nutra-Life" brand vitamins and "Aussie Bodies" protein bars.

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Chinese suitors had also explored possible deals for US vitamin maker GNC Holdings and Canadian supplement brand Jamieson Laboratories, people with knowledge of the matter said in 2016.


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