GraceKennedy is set to acquire another 35 per cent interest in Catherine's Peak.

GRACEKENNEDY Limited has entered into an agreement with Spike Industries Limited to double its stake to 70 per cent in Catherine's Peak Bottling Company Limited, which is the owner of the Catherine's Peak pure spring water brand.

The announcement, which was disclosed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange yesterday, occurred on GK's 101st anniversary of its operations. The transaction, which is subject to closing conditions, will result in Catherine's Peak being reclassified from an associate to a subsidiary as GK continues to position itself within the Jamaican spring water market. Catherine's Peak has been in operation since November 1992.

GK acquired the 876 Spring Water brand in 2021 and acquired its original stake in Catherine's Peak in late 2018. Catherine's Peak financial year ends on March 31, with the chairman being Michael Bernard who is also the executive chairman of Spike Industries.

"The decision to expand our ownership of Catherine's Peak is squarely in line with the growth strategy for our GK Foods division, which sees us acquiring top Jamaican brands with broad consumer appeal capable of growing both locally and internationally. We're excited to be taking further steps to grow GK's portfolio of products to provide a wider selection to our customers," said GK Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Donald Wehby in the press release.

GK acquired 35 per cent of Catherine's Peak for $525 million, which valued the business at $1.50 billion. Catherine's Peak had $332.95 million in total assets and $86.16 million in net assets at the end of 2018, while earning $139.36 million in revenue and reporting $10.55 million in net profit for the two-month period.

At the end of 2021 Catherine's Peak reported $695.31 million in assets and $262.60 million in net assets, with revenue at $1.18 billion and net profit topping $91.38 million — a 41 per cent decline from 2020. GK received $28.27 million in dividends related to their 35 per cent stake, with its associate stake valued at $590.45 million.

"Catherine's Peak is a quality product that is loved by so many Jamaicans and we look forward to the brand's continued growth. We see opportunities to expand [the] Catherine's Peak distribution outside of the local market through line extensions and exports to the Caribbean and US markets, and we are eager to bring new innovations to the brand in the future," added GraceKennedy Foods CEO Frank James.

GraceKennedy's 2022 audited financials are due by March 1, with the company reporting $103.99 million in consolidated revenue for the nine months and net profit attributable to shareholders of $5.22 billion. Profit before tax was $7.74 billion up to September 30.

GK paid out more than $2 billion in dividends in 2022 and has hired Nasdaq ESG Advisory to assist it in securing an ESG (environmental, social and governance) sustainability rating. GK's total assets stood at $200.78 billion, with equity attributable to shareholders at $69.13 billion as of September. GK's food trading segment reported $85.48 billion in revenue and $4.16 billion in profit before tax.

"We are proud to have Catherine's Peak as a part of our group. Catherine's Peak is one of the largest, innovative bottled water companies on the local market and we are extremely pleased to welcome the Catherine's Peak team to our GK family," Wehby closed.

BY DAVID ROSE Observer business writer

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