Business Irish

Saturday 23 September 2017

CapVest in £500m takeover bid for KP snacks business

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

IRISH private equity chief Seamus Fitzpatrick's CapVest has been linked to a £500m (€620m) takeover bid for the British-based KP snacks business, which makes Hula Hoops and McCoy's crisps in the UK market.

CapVest, founded by Cavan man Fitzpatrick, is already the majority owner of Ireland's Valeo Foods.

Now it is understood to be one of three private equity houses that have submitted bids of around £500m for the savoury snacks unit of Britain's United Biscuits.

Germany's Intersnack, a trade buyer, is also in the running to buy the business.

All four are understood to have made second-round offers in recent days.

Last night, a spokesman for CapVest declined to comment.

United Biscuits is owned by private equity firms Blackstone and PAI.

They bought the company -- made up of the savoury snacks unit and the makers of McVities biscuits -- for £1.6bn in 2006 in a debt financed buyout.

Two years ago they attempted to sell the entire business, without success.

Now a standalone deal for just the savoury snacks unit could fetch more than £500m.

It is understood that banks are willing to finance bids for deals of that scale, but any attempt to buy the entire company could struggle to secure financing in the current market.

Up to €300m of the eventual price paid for the savoury snacks business is likely to come from banks.

Even if CapVest comes out on top in the current bidding, it is not clear whether the KP business could be combined with its Irish-branded foods assets.

Household

CapVest has created one of the country's biggest food companies in little more than two years since the Valeo company was created in 2010. It was formed from a merger of Batchelors and Origin Enterprises.

The merger left Seamus Fitzpatrick's venture with a majority in the combined business.

Since then Valeo has snapped up Jacobs Fruitfield in a deal reckoned to have been worth around €100m.

The combined business controls a plethora of household brands including Batchelors, Odlums, Roma, Jacobs and Erin Foods.

Separately, CapVest owns a majority stake in the Mater Private hospital. That stake was bought in a €300m deal in 2007.

Last April CapVest sold its United Coffee unit to Japan's UCC in a deal reckoned to have been worth at least €500m.

Capvest, set up in 1999, has raised over €3bn from investors, including a group of Irish backers put together by NCB Stockbrokers that pumped €50m into the company.

Irish Independent

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