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Weider sells Haleko to Croatian group


US-based Weider Nutrition has sold Haleko, Europe's biggest sports nutrition business, to Croatian holding company Atlantic Grupa for around $15 million (€12.3m), the firm said on Friday, reports Dominique Patton.

Weider has recently stated that it wants to focus on growing its Schiff brand joint supplements business, largely sold in the US, and has moved to divest some of its other activities including a weight loss portfolio and the Germany-based Venice Beach apparel brand in 2003.

In addition, Haleko , acquired by Weider in 1999 and also based in Germany, has seen declining sales over recent months, reporting a loss from operations of $941,000 for the first nine months to February 2005.

Atlantic Grupa , set up in 2002, will seek to turn around profitability at the company. It already owns the Cedevita supplements business, including a range of vitamin drinks, functional teas, vitamin chews and supplements sold by its distribution unit Atlantic Trade, which also sells international brands like Wrigley, Duracell and Nestle Purina Petcare.

The products are marketed in central, eastern and western Europe.

Haleko's core brands - Multipower and Multaben - lead the sports nutrition markets in a number of European countries. It also makes products for private label customers.

Atlantic Grupa, which also owns a personal care business - Neva - reported a 17 per cent growth in sales during 2004, over the previous year's same period, with revenue reaching around €115 million.

Branislav Bibic, secretary general of the holding company, told that there would be significant synergies for the firms in distribution terms. Atlantic will benefit from Haleko's distribution channels in western Europe.

The deal will lead to losses of around $9.6 million for Weider in the fourth quarter.

Its third quarter income has already been more than halved - down to $1.2 million, compared to $2.6 million a year earlier - as a result of underperforming "domestic private label sales, as well as weakness in our Haleko business unit's Multipower and Multaben brands," according to Bruce Wood, president and CEO.

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