Malteries Soufflet, a unit of French agribusiness InVivo, has agreed to buy 100% of the shares in Australian distributor United Malt Group for about A$1.5bn ($1bn) by way of a scheme of arrangement.

According to the scheme of the arrangement, the shareholders of United Malt will get A$5.00 per United Malt Group’s share in cash.

United Malt is a commercial maltster that makes bulk malt for brewers, craft brewers, distillers, and food companies.

The firm has processing plants in Australia, Canada, the US, and the UK.

InVivo CEO Thierry Blandinieres said: “We are excited to announce this significant milestone in our acquisition of United Malt. This marks an important step in the implementation of our strategy to create a global platform in the malt sector, which we developed with our strategic partners, KKR, Bpifrance and Crédit Agricole Group.”

The acquisition will enable Malteries Soufflet to expand its activities geographically and enter new markets, including China and Oceania.

It is part of InVivo’s plans to develop a global malt platform.

InVivo acquired agribusiness peer Soufflet in 2022 and signed an agreement in January 2023 to buy Belgian malthouse Castle Malting.

InVivo’s unit is also a malt producer and runs 28 malt houses across Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

United Malt chairman Graham Bradley said: “We are pleased to join forces with Malteries Soufflet, a company that shares our commitment to delivering exceptional malt products to our customers.

“This is a fantastic outcome for our customers, employees, shareholders and other stakeholders and we look forward to completing the transaction.”

In addition to other regulatory hurdles, the deal currently needs clearance from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) and United Malt’s shareholders’ approval.

The transaction is expected to close by October of this year.