Permira stocks freezer with €805m deal

The firm’s Birds Eye Iglo portfolio company reportedly beat out a Lion Capital-backed bid for Unilever’s Findus Italy frozen food business.

Permira ‘s frozen food platform is set to expand with the €805 million purchase of Findus Italy from Unilever, according to a statement from the international conglomerate.

Unilever Italy chairman James Hill called Findus the “lynchpin of an attractive and profitable frozen foods business”,  in a statement that noted the divesture would assist Unilever in focusing on strengthening its core businesses in Italy.

4 Salti in Padella: Permira cooks up Italian bolt-on for Fund III

Findus Italy will be added on to Birds Eye Iglo, a frozen food platform Permira purchased from Unilever in 2006 for £1.15 billion. Birds Eye Iglo is a portfolio company of Permira’s third fund, which set a European record when it closed on €5.1 billion in 2003.

Fund III and Birds Eye will contribute €300 million in equity for the Findus Italy deal, a source confirmed. It was unclear precisely how much was being contributed from the fund’s reserves. Roughly €500 million in debt will be raised to finance the deal, whose purchase price multiple is around 9x to 10x based on 2009 EBIDTA figures.

Details of the deal were first reported Monday in The Financial Times, which noted Permira had fought off “strong competition” from a Lion Capital portfolio company, Findus Group, as well as other bidders.

Findus Italy employs 650 people and makes popular frozen food brands including 4 Salti in Padella, Sofficini, Capitan Findus and That's Amore.