Lion bites into food sector

Lion Capital is backing the food sector for growth in a secondary transaction, which marks the culmination of CapVest’s acquisitive run building one of Europe’s largest frozen food manufacturers.

Consumer brand buyout specialist Lion Capital is buying The FoodVest Group, one of Europe’s largest frozen food manufacturers, from CapVest, a UK buyout firm, for £1.1 billion ($2.2 billion; €1.4 billion). 

FoodVest has a strong market position in the UK, Scandinavia and France and a growing presence in Central and Eastern Europe.  The company is also the leading producer of chilled seafood products in the UK.

The transaction is expected to be completed in September 2008.

CapVest formed FoodVest in 2006 to combine the businesses of Young’s, Findus and the Seafood Company. The company has 6,000 employees across 21 facilities in 5 countries and in 2007 generated over £1 billion of turnover.

Lyndon Lea, a partner at Lion Capital, said in a statement: “Similar to the strategy we have pursued at our other market-leading food businesses, we intend to focus on FoodVest’s core strengths within the categories and markets in which it operates.” He also said the company would continue innovating and investing in the products and brands, which include Young’s Chip Shop range and Admiral’s Pie.

Seamus FitzPatrick, chairman of FoodVest and co-founder of CapVest, said: “This transaction marks the culmination of our strategy to build the UK seafood business we acquired in 2002 into a leading pan-European branded food group.  We have driven a six-fold increase in earnings at FoodVest over our six and a half year period of ownership by investing in both organic and acquisition led growth.” 

He said the investment was an excellent case study in how CapVest generated investor returns by transforming the size and scale of its 0portfolio businesses.