The Arnott’s ownership passed to the American Campbell’s Soup Company in 1997. Campbell’s had been increasing its stake in the company since the 1980s when Arnott’s sought backing to avoid a takeover by Nabisco. The Arnott family had retained an interest in the company but a failed foray into snack foods and a slump in the Australian economy forced the eventual sale. See History of Arnott’s Ltd.
The American Nabisco biscuit manufacturer had been attempting to gain a foothold in the Australian market since the 1950s, looking to acquire existing companies. Arnott’s moved to forestall this with a series of amalgamations with leading biscuit companies in other states. This saw Arnott’s ownership move from purely family hands, but it remained a private company until 1970 when it listed on the Australian stock exchange.
In the 1960s, Nabisco set up its own operation in Australia. Arnott’s public listing in 1970 exposed it to further takeover attempts by the American company. Campbell’s acquisition a 14 per cent share of Arnott’s ownership helped to avert this. However, an unsuccessful venture into snack foods in the 1980s left Arnott’s further exposed and the Arnott family decided to sell its controlling interest.
By 1992 Campbell’s had a 33 per cent share, which rose to 70 per cent by 1994. Difficult economic conditions and an extortion threat against Arnott’s further weakened the company and Campbell’s gained full ownership in 1997. At that point, the company had production facilities in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
In late 2018 Campbell’s announced its intention to sell Arnott’s, raising hopes that we would see the brand back in Australian hands. However, in 2019 the company was bought by another American company, the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR).