A couple of months ago, there were rumours that Bright Food Group, the giant Shanghai-based food products conglomerate, were on the verge of buying United Biscuits, the British owners of the McVities, Penguin, KP and Hula Hoops brands.
The idea was that Bright Food was looking for some good snack food brands to sell in Chinese convenience stores, not a bad plan if you have ever had the misfortune to hunt for something to eat in a Chinese corner shop.
United Biscuits is owned by Blackstone and PAI partners, and valued at around 20 billion yuan ($3 billion) but talks between the two sides abruptly ended in November amid talk that Bright Food Group had turned its attention to GNC.
Today comes confirmation that Bright Food is on the verge of a deal for GNC, whose vitamins might appeal to the Chinese middle-class. The size of the deal is somewhere around $3 billion, suggesting that Bright Food only had a war chest for one foreign acquisition.
It is potentially a smart diversification, probably one that makes more sense, in the long term, than the United Biscuits deal. But the sequence of events does suggest that Bright Food was relatively indiscriminate in which foreign asset it purchased (before United Biscuits, it was also in the bidding for an Australian sugar company), and given that the Chinese conglomerate has never managed a major foreign firm, it will be interesting to see how it gets on.