Hicks Muse gets Nestlé food brands

Hicks Muse portfolio company Premier International has completed the bolt-on acquisition of the ambient food businesses of Nestlé.

US private equity firm Hicks Muse Tate & Furst has acquired a number of non-core food businesses from Nestlé for an undisclosed sum, believed to be in the region of £100m. The deal will see Hicks Muse portfolio company, Premier International Foods, acquiring a range of Nestlé brands, including Crosse & Blackwell, Branston Pickle and Gale’s honey.

Hicks Muse has won the race to acquire these brands ahead of reported competition from Doughty Hanson and Electra Partners. Last year, Nestlè's Ambient Food Businesses generated sales in excess of £100m. The proposed transaction includes the manufacturing facilities at Hadfield, Middleton and Tallaght.

Lyndon Lea, partner at Hicks Muse, said he believed the acquisition marked a major strategic step forward for Premier International Foods. “The deal will provide Premier International with further critical mass and will enable us to develop and support our existing brands.” The latest deal comes on the back of three smaller acquisitions completed in 2001.

A spokesman for Hicks Muse said the acquisition was in keeping with the firm’s strategic commitment to investing in the branded food, manufacturing and media industries. The firm recently completed a bolt-on purchase for Yell, its directories business, with acquisition of McLeodUSA Publishing.