Bright Food Group Co. said Thursday it will buy a 60 percent stake in British cereal maker Weetabix Ltd. in a nearly $2 billion deal that seeks to give China's second-largest food company greater access to foreign markets.

Terms weren't disclosed, but the deal values Weetabix at around 1.2 billion pounds ($1.9 billion). Bright Food, which is partially owned by the Shanghai government, is buying the stake from Lion Capital LLP, a London-based prviate equity firm.

As China's leading food group, we are pleased to become the controlling shareholder of Weetabix, Bright Food chairman Wang Zhongnan said in the statement. Weetabix has an excellent product portfolio, including leading British cereal brand Weetabix and other category-leading brands.

The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2012.

The company has moved aggressively to increase its foreign holdings. Bright Food also bought a 75 percent share in Australian firm Manassen Foods from Champ Private Equity. It also lost a bid last year to General Mills Inc. for a stake in Yoplait, the French yogurt company.

Bright Food, established in 2006, has 3.42 Chinese yuan ($514 million) in registered capital, according to its website. Its divisions produce dairy, canned meats, alcohol and candy, including the White Rabbit brand.

The conglomerate has four listings on the Shanghai stock exchange: Shanghai Jinfeng Wine Co, Shanghai Haibo Co, Shanghai Maling Aquarius Co and Bright Dairy & Food Co.