Phoenix buys into chilled foods for £51m

Phoenix Equity Partners, a UK private equity firm, has backed a £51m management buyout of NFT Distribution, a chilled foods logistics business. The deal is the first for Phoenix Equity Partners 2006, which raised £375m earlier in the year.

Phoenix Equity Partners, a UK mid-market firm, has bought NFT Distribution, a chilled food logistics company, from Northern Foods, a UK snacks, frozen pizza and pastry products producer.

Daw: focus on expanding UK business

The £51.2 million (€75 million) management buyout is the first acquisition from Phoenix Equity Partners’ latest fund, Phoenix Partners 2006 Fund, which closed on £375 million in March.
Debt for the transaction, which is expected to complete in the next two weeks, was provided by Anglo Irish bank.
NFT, based in Derbyshire, is a specialist distributor of chilled fresh foods to supermarket retailers and UK food manufacturers.
Richard Daw, partner at Phoenix Equity Partners, said that the firm will focus on maintaining NFT’s market share in the UK, but would also investigate expanding its product offering: “We’re looking to do more of the same for NFT as they are already the leader in the UK for chilled contract logistics, with around 30 percent market share. We’ll be looking to broaden slightly their array of services, such as going into fruit and vegetable product logistics, where time and temperature controls are critical. But we’re not looking at European expansion, we’re absolutely sticking to the UK.”
Daw said NFT is Phoenix Equity Partners’ first investment in chilled goods.  “We are interested purely in NFT. We’re not looking to merge the business with anyone else, ” he said.
Phoenix Equity Partners’ previous investments in the logistics segment include Palletways, a UK freight distributor acquired in a secondary buyout from 3i in July 2004.