Montagu makes first investment with Marlow

The private equity firm that spun out from HSBC in March this year has acquired Marlow Foods, makers of Quorn, from AstraZeneca.

Montagu Private Equity, which under the leadership of Chris Masterson spun out from global banking group HSBC earlier this year, has acquired Marlow Foods from AstraZeneca for £70m. The buyout is being financed with 60 per cent equity capital and the balance as debt. 

Founded in 1975, Marlow makes a range of branded chilled and frozen foods but is probably best known as the maker and distributor of meat-substitute Quorn. The firm had annual sales revenue last year of over £80m – with more than 75 per cent of sales coming from the UK.

Marlow was part of Zeneca's speciality chemicals division but was put up for sale last year with a target price tag of £100m as the group sought to concentrate on its core pharmaceutical operations.

Nick Hughes, CEO of Marlow, will continue at the company while Ross Warburton, executive chairman of bread producer Warburtons has been appointed chairman.

Montagu Private Equity currently manages a E2bn fund that closed in October 2002, half raised from HSBC and half from third party limited partners, which is ten per cent invested. The firm also has another E1bn under management on behalf of HSBC in a legacy portfolio.