HMTF’s Premier Foods buys Unilever unit

Hicks Muse Tate & Furst has made a further bolt-on acquisition at its Premier Foods portfolio business, acquiring two food brands from Unilever.

Premier Foods, the UK ambient food brands business owned by US private equity house Hicks Muse Tate & Furst (HMTF), has made the latest in a series of bolt-on acquisitions. The group has agreed to acquire a number of brands from Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods conglomerate.

The deal, reportedly worth E105m, sees the Ambrosia and Brown & Polson units move to Premier Foods. The brands generated combined sales of approximately £60m in 2002.


The value of the transaction has not been disclosed, although Reuters reports that the deal was worth more than E100m. In May 2002, HMTF backed the acquisition of a number of brands from Nestle in a deal worth more than £100m.


Ambrosia is a producer of milk-based desserts including custard and rice pudding while Brown & Polson is a cornflour brand in the UK. The transaction includes the transfer of a production site based at Lifton.


“The acquisition of the Ambrosia and Brown & Polson brands represents a continuation of our buy-and-build strategy in the ambient food sector,” said Lyndon Lea, a London-based Partner at HMTF. “This is our fifth strategic add-on acquisition through Premier and continues our initiative of building a leading branded, category focused food company.”


The Unilever units join the expanding group of ambient food brands controlled by Premier, which includes established UK brands such as Loyd Grossman, Crosse & Blackwell and Branston Pickle.


Hicks Muse has now invested more than £165m in Premier Foods, although Lyndon Lea said that the firm was yet to decide on an exit strategy for the business.


Hicks Muse also confirmed that Pinnacle Foods, one of the firm’s other investments in the food and consumer sector, is under contract to be sold at a price that will value the company’s equity at two times the originally invested capital in 2000.