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Bain wins race to buy Valeo Foods for more than €1.7bn

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VALEO Group CEO Seamus Kearney. Photo: Chris Bellew /Fennell Photography

VALEO Group CEO Seamus Kearney. Photo: Chris Bellew /Fennell Photography

VALEO Group CEO Seamus Kearney. Photo: Chris Bellew /Fennell Photography

Valeo Foods, the company behind household brands like Batchelors, Jacobs and Odlums, is being sold to Bain Capital by CapVest partners for a price in excess of €1.7bn. 

Dublin-headquartered Valeo, which was formed in 2010 through the merger of Origin Foods and Batchelors by CapVest, will now join Bain’s portfolio of food industry investments, including Burger King, Dunkin and Domino’s Pizza.

The disposal by CapVest follows its sale in March of Eight Fifty Food Group, the owners of Irish meat companies Carroll’s and M&M Walshe, to Canadian group Sofina Foods.

The transaction means CapVest, founded by Cavan-born Seamus Fitzpatrick in 1999, will have exited all of its Irish food investments this year.

Cinven Partners, another bidder in the auction for Valeo, lost out despite bringing ex-CEO of Premier Foods Gavin Darby on board for its pitch.

CapVest grew Valeo over an unusually long investment period from an Irish-only business into a major force in ambient food, making 17 acquisitions along the way and growing sales to €1.1bn across 106 markets.

Its most recent acquisitions were snack companies It’s All Good, which makes tortilla chips, in December 2020 and Kettle, the popular crisp maker, in 2019.

The company currently employs 4,000 people at 24 sites in Ireland, the UK, Czech Republic, Netherlands and Germany.

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Chief executive Seamus Kearney is to continue leading the business with the existing management team after the acquisition, according to both parties to the deal.

“Valeo Foods has been developed into a key player in the European food industry by a talented and ambitious team,” Nigel Walder, a managing director at Bain Capital. “We believe Valeo has further potential to grow significantly, both organically and through acquisitions, and look forward to partnering with Seamus and his team to accelerate that growth trajectory and further consolidate the company’s position as a leading international food business.”

CapVest appointed investment bank Goldman Sachs in January to auction Valeo. By the end of April, the list of final bidders was down to Bain, Cinven and Paris-based PAI Partners.

All three were preparing final bids and management presentations last week. Bain then moved aggressively over the weekend to tie up an agreement.

The deal is subject to approval by regulatory authorities.


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