Advent backs Aviagen bolt-on investment

Advent International’s poultry business, bought from BC Partners in May, has made an add-on acquisition in Belgium as part of Advent’s effort to grow its investment.

Aviagen, the meat poultry breeding business bought by Advent International in May, has agreed a deal to acquire Benelux food distribution business Ross-EPI.


Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.


The acquisition, described by Advent as a “significant step” in the development of the business it acquired in May from BC Partners for £255m, sees Aviagen take control of its largest European distributor. 


Aviagen is one of the world’s largest poultry science businesses, developing pedigree lines for the production of broiler chickens and turkeys principally under the Ross, Arbor Acres, LIR and Nicholas Turkey brand names. The company is based near Edinburgh with a number of wholly owned operations across the UK and USA. The business also has a number of joint ventures in Western and Central Europe, Latin America, South Africa and Asia. Aviagen has annual revenues of £165m and employs 1,500 people in 85 countries.


As part of the Ross-EPI transaction, Erich Wesjohann GmbH, the holding company of an egg-laying chicken breeding company based in Germany, has purchased a minority shareholding in Aviagen. Erich Wesjohann will also join the Aviagen board.


Aviagen also announced the appointment of Steve Hannam, former chief executive of BTP plc, as chairman. 


Advent bought Aviagen after BC Partners built it up following an initial £110m purchase of the then market leading poultry breeder Ross Breeders in late 1998, from listed UK conglomerate Hillsdown Holdings. It then merged Ross with rival Arbor Acres which it acquired in August 1999 for £65m. BC Partners is understood to have achieved a return of more than three times its investment in Aviagen.


In an development elsewhere earlier this week, Advent International received EU clearance for its proposed acquisition of German electrical engineering company Moeller Holding. The deal, which is thought to value the German business at more than E100m, is likely to be the subject of further private equity interest, with CVC Capital Partners expected to launch a rival offer. CVC and Moeller were in exclusive negotiations over a deal earlier this year, although the period of exclusivity is thought to have ended.