EQT to bring UK firm to China

The European firm has acquired a 96% stake in UK-based food importer and distributor Classic Fine Foods, with the intention of expanding its operations into China.

Nordic private equity firm EQT Partners has acquired a 96 percent stake in Classic Fine Foods (CFF) from UK-based Vestey Group.

The firm declined to comment on the size of the transaction.

Established in 1999, CFF is an importer and distributor of fine foods products such as dairy, meat, pastry, gastronomies, seafood and pasta. The company has operations in 11 markets around the globe including Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. According to an EQT statement, Asian markets together represent more than 80 percent of CFF’s total sales.

The investment was made from EQT Greater China II, a $535 million vehicle that closed in January 2007. The fund is focused primarily on mid-market buyout and control investments based in or connected with China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

While CFF is headquartered in the UK, EQT hopes to expand its operations into China.

“We will focus on expanding the product offering but also look into the possibilities of entering new markets, for instance China,” Massimo Rossi, industrial advisor of the EQT industrial network and new chairman of the board of directors of CFF, said in the statement.

Last month, EQT completed the acquisition of a 65 percent stake in Chinese bakery chain Qinyuan Bakery. The deal followed a 30 percent interest investment in Modern Metal & Precision, a Chinese manufacturer of aluminum die casting.

EQT has offices in Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Hong Kong, London, Munich, New York, Oslo, Shanghai, Stockholm, Warsaw and Zurich.