A brawl erupts over baby formula in a Westfield in Sydney.
A brawl erupts over baby formula in a Westfield in Sydney.

Baby formula brawl follows $1.5bn bid

Shoppers have been captured on video brawling outside Woolworths in Sydney's Hurstville over tins of baby formula.

People can be seen lying on the ground kicking and punching one another with shopping bags in the video shared with Nine News.

 

It comes as Chinese dairy company Mengniu announced Monday it had made a takeover offer for Australian infant formula producer Bellamy's in a deal valued at around $1.5 billion.

Hong Kong-listed Mengniu has been eyeing global expansion in recent years, and said it was drawn by the Australian group's local operations and supply chain, as well as its "leading organic brand position".

"Our sales growth ambitions for Bellamy's in Australia, and the broader Asia Pacific region, will see investment in the local dairy industry to ensure the required capacity is in place to achieve these plans," Mengniu CEO Lu Minfang said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

 

A shopper lies on the ground kicking others during a brawl over baby formula.
A shopper lies on the ground kicking others during a brawl over baby formula.

The news lifted the entire consumer staples segment on the ASX on Monday as the infant formula maker urged shareholders to accept the takeover bid.

Bellamy's shares soared 54.9 per cent to $12.89 following the China Mengniu Dairy Company's $13.25 cash-per-share buyout offer.

Other China-facing companies rose following the takeover offer, with Blackmores shares rising 9.4 per cent, A2 Milk gaining 4.0 per cent and Bubs Australia up 1.7 per cent.

The gains came even as a "data dump" from China on Monday afternoon showed the country's economy had kept slowing, with industrial production at its lowest levels since 2002.

 

Ebony Millis' uses a combination of breast milk and bottle, including Bellamy organic, Aussie-made formula.
Ebony Millis' uses a combination of breast milk and bottle, including Bellamy organic, Aussie-made formula.

 

Bellamy's CEO Andrew Cohen said that Mengniu offered a "strong platform for distribution and success in China".

The board of directors at the Australian group have given their support to the takeover, which still needs to receive approval from the company's shareholders and Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board.

According to a separate Mengniu statement on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, infant milk formula is one of the largest and fastest-growing segments among China's dairy industry, driven by increasing disposable income and growing spending on children.

Demand from Asia has led to chaotic scenes in Australian supermarkets, with previous reports of angry shoppers confronting members of an organised syndicate stripping baby formula from Woolworths shelves in July.

Previous footage shows a group of Asian shoppers frantically running in and out of an Adelaide Woolworths repeatedly buying the two-tin limit.

"Oh you've got plenty of babies, plenty of babies, huh?" the man filming sarcastically asks one of the group as they crouch next to their haul outside.

Belinda Jennings, founder of national mum's network Mum Central, said local mums were tired of organised groups stripping supermarket shelves.

"I think it's absolutely heart breaking, you've got enough to worry about as a new mum, let alone trying to find food and this is sometime the only food you can give them," she said.

"It's extremely frustrating you know, we've had mums saying they're driving around late at night trying to find formula for their babies and all the shelves are empty."

- With Frank Chung



Manhunt for driver who crashed into police car

premium_icon Manhunt for driver who crashed into police car

Policeman taken to hospital after pursuit ends in crash

#21-30: Northern Rivers' greatest sports stars of all time

premium_icon #21-30: Northern Rivers' greatest sports stars of all time

One name on today's list is sure to be controversial

Bullet removed from man's brain after Lismore shooting

premium_icon Bullet removed from man's brain after Lismore shooting

22-year-old has undergone surgery and is still in critical condition