July 12, 2018 / 11:43 AM / 11 days ago

Nestle sells small New Zealand candy brands in latest divestment

ZURICH, July 12 (Reuters) - Nestle is selling some small New Zealand candy brands, including Mackintosh's toffees and Black Knight licorice, to Australia's Quadrant Private Equity, the latest example of the world's biggest food company tidying up its portfolio.

"Following a review of Nestle's confectionery business in Australia and New Zealand, Nestle is looking to focus on its major chocolate, baking and medicated lozenge brands in New Zealand," Nestle said in a statement on Thursday.

It said it had reached a conditional agreement to sell kiwi confectionery brands Mackintosh's, Heards, Black Knight and Fabulicious Red Licorice as well as other Oceania brands Life Savers and Oddfellows to Quadrant. It did not disclose the price of the deal.

The company said up to 55 jobs out of a total of over 270 would be lost at its Wiri factory that will reduce output to focus on culinary products, such as Maggi soups.

Nestle agreed to sell its U.S. confectionery business to Italy's Ferrero for $2.8 billion in January, and is under shareholder pressure to divest more.

Activist shareholder Third Point is publicly pushing for a faster overhaul at the company aimed at improving sales and profits at the Swiss company grappling with weakened demand for packaged food.

Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz in Zurich and Martinne Geller in London

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