MILAN, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Massimo Zanetti has agreed to buy Australia's "The Bean Alliance" in the latest deal by an Italian coffee group to expand abroad as competition at home intensifies.
Coffee maker Zanetti said on Monday it would pay 14.9 million euros ($17 million) plus a potential earn-out to buy the Australian company, which produces and sells several premium brands, including the fairtrade and organic Bean Ground & Drunk.
The deal, which is expected to close by January, will strengthen Zanetti's exposure to the Australian market and open more opportunities in the Asian Pacific area, a fast-growing market for coffee.
Zanetti's acquisition follows other deals announced by Italian rivals Lavazza and illycaffe in recent weeks after coffee chain Starbucks inaugurated its first outlet in the espresso-obsessed country two months ago.
Lavazza said earlier this month it had agreed to buy the coffee business of food giant Mars Inc to expand its business in the United States and in some European countries.
Illycaffe teamed up with conglomerate JAB Holding to produce and sell illy-branded coffee pods that will work in Nestle's Nespresso machines. ($1 = 0.8790 euros) (Reporting by Francesca Landini; editing by David Evans)