AUSTRALIA’S tea giant is in talks to acquire British tea maker Wild Straw for about $4.2 million, sources have told the ABC.
The deal, which has yet to be finalised, could see Wild Straw take over the tea business of Wild Green, which produces loose leaf teas.
Key points:The deal is likely to be announced by the end of the weekWild Straw is owned by Australian Tea Brands Ltd, the world’s second largest tea companyThe company employs nearly 1,000 people in AustraliaThe deal would mark the first time a British tea company has been bought by a Australian companyIt is understood that Wild Straw is interested in buying Wild Green but it is not yet clear whether the deal will be finalising before the end-of-year holiday season, when many Australian consumers begin to head back to their homes for the first week of November.
The sale would be the biggest in Australian history, surpassing a $3.4 million acquisition of the Australian-based firm in the 1970s.
Wild Straw owns Wild Green and has employed about 1,200 people in the state.
It also makes loose leaf drinks and a range of other teas for domestic and international markets.
A spokeswoman for Wild Straw declined to comment.
Last year, Wild Straw was awarded a $2.2 billion contract to sell tea to a global buyer after securing a $1.7 billion takeover bid by the Chinese conglomerate Tencent.
It will also be the second time a UK tea company, UK Tea, has been acquired by a domestic Australian company.
In 2010, British firm Oasis bought British tea firm Lomax for $3 billion.
Lomax had just three employees when it was acquired in 2010.
Linda MacLean, senior analyst at Euromonitor International, said the deal was a significant development for the tea industry.
“Wild Straw, which is also owned by the UK Tea Company, has the capacity to significantly expand their tea business and this is a significant opportunity for Wild Green to invest in Australian production,” she said.
“It would be a big boost for the Australian tea industry, which would see the expansion of their domestic supply chain, and the expansion in the number of tea outlets they have in Australia.”
Wild Straw has been buying tea from tea producers in Britain and other parts of Europe.
Its loose leaf and black tea offerings are among the most popular in the UK.
Its tea company also makes a range with different ingredients, including chocolate and vanilla.
The company is set to open a new facility in the city of Cumbria, in north Wales, next year.