Black Swan dips could be saved by food giant

Simplot Australia has emerged as a front runner in the bid to buy Black Swan, which went into receivership in June last year, reports suggest.

Expressions of interest to buy the business closed last week. The Australian reports Simplot Australia is the leading interested party and that the dip business could fetch around $50 million in the sale.

Simplot Australia is a food manufacturing giant, with well-known brands including John West, Edgell, Birds Eye, Leggos and Lean Cuisine.

Other big businesses speculated to have expressed interest include dairy giant Fonterra, Parmalat and Murray Goulburn.

Deloitte were appointed as administrators to Black Swan by the Family Court of Australia following a dispute involving the chief executive of the company.

Black Swan was created by family business Poseidon Tarama, which was launched 35 years ago by Christos Saristavros. Saristavros created tarama and hummus dips and initially sold them at the South Melbourne markets.

Saristavros was fatally shot in 2000 when returning from a charity function with his wife. Reports indicate the case is still unsolved, despite the family calling on a police reward of $1 million for information leading to the mystery being solved.

In January administrator Deloitte Corporate Finance partner Victoria Brilliant told SmartCompany she could not reveal details of the Family Court case or the reason for the sale, but said the company was “very profitable”.

She said the business had the largest market share for dips and chilled yoghurt dips in Australia. An advertisement for the sale of the business said it creates 20 million tubs of dips for the Australian market each year.

The sale encompasses a Clayton-based manufacturing plant, full control off the 70-plus product line and distribution agreements with major supermarket chains nationally including Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and IGA.

Brilliant said the business has around 70 staff and said the plan is that whoever takes on the company will retain staff in a “business as usual” approach.

Brilliant said Deloitte was aiming to conclude the sale by June 30 ahead of the new financial year.

Deloitte was contacted for more information this morning but declined to comment.

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