Monde CEO bets personal fortune to keep meat alternative business going
MANILA -Henry Soesanto, the CEO and major shareholder of Philippine food conglomerate Monde Nissin Corp., is betting part of his personal fortune to support the company’s alternative meat business as challenges plaguing the segment contributed to a P60-billion stock market wipeout this year.
The Indonesian tycoon and controlling family shareholders pledged to backstop new impairment losses at wholly owned Singapore subsidiary Monde Nissin Singapore Pte Ltd., owner of substitute meat company Quorn, for the next 10 years.
The maximum financial support will be capped by the value of 2.156 billion family-owned Monde shares—equivalent to a 12-percent stake in the company currently worth more than P17 billion.
The final value will be calculated at the end of 2032 and will be the source of funding to offset potential impairment losses accumulated by meat alternatives, which already recorded a P20-billion writedown last year.
Soesanto described the unprecedented move as a “comfort letter” to stockholders of Monde, best known as the maker of Lucky Me! instant noodles and SkyFlakes crackers.
Obligations under the pledge will disappear should Monde decide to sell the business. However, Soesanto maintained his long-term conviction on Quorn and the meat alternatives.
“Quorn has more than 30 years of operating history,” Soesanto said during a media briefing.
“We got impaired the first time during this very difficult time. This was basically caused by outside factors, the macroeconomic conditions happening in Europe and the [United States]. We believe that difficult situation is not forever and once these outside factors are over, it is reasonable to assume that the growth will come back in the medium to long-term,” he added.
Concerns over Quorn continue to weigh on the share price of Monde, which launched the county’s biggest initial public offering two years ago.
Monde’s share price plunged 26 percent so far this year versus the 5.6 percent decline at the benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index.
The financial pledge made by Soesanto pushed up its share price by 4.68 percent to P8.27 each on Thursday. The stock is still trading 40 percent below its IPO price.
COL Financial Group chief equity strategist April Lynn Tan said the move could appease jittery stockholders worried about the further erosion of value caused by Quorn.
“I think the principals want to give the public reassurance that if Quorn turns out to be a bad investment, they shouldn’t worry because Monde will not have to suffer an impairment on its investment,” she told the Inquirer.
Quorn CEO Marco Bertacca said during the briefing that additional support from major shareholders will give the company runway to improve their market position and adjust their business strategy.
The company is also bullish on its food service business and newly launched food ingredients segment, which involves offering their micro-protein products to other manufacturers.
“Currently, the divestment of meat alternatives is not in the plan,” Bertacca said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Monde’s main businesses remained resilient as core net income during the first nine months of 2023 rose 1.1 percent to P5.7 billion while net sale grew 10.5 percent to P59.66 billion.
Meat alternative sales dropped 4.7 percent to P10.7 billion during the nine-month period while Asia Pacific branded food and beverage grew 14.5 percent to nearly P49 billion.