Young's owners swoops for US seafood company –

Young’s owners swoops for US seafood company Published:  09 November, 2010

LION Capital, the London based private equity group which bought Young’s Seafood and Findus two years ago, has bought one of North America’s oldest seafood businesses – Bumble Bee Foods.

Bumble Bee was founded in 1897 and  produces tuna, sardine, salmon,  under a number of colourfully named brands including Bumble Bee, Clover Leaf, Snow’s, Beach Cliff, King Oscar and Sweet Sue. The company has 1,700 employees across eight facilities in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico, which last year generated a net income of $940 million.

The deal  reflects the growing popularity of seafood companies in private equity banking circles and how international the business is becoming.The company hit the headlines in the US in April this year when it  closed down the last sardine cannery in the  country  following drastic government cuts to the amount of herring fishermen can now catch in the north-eastern US coast due to overfishing.

Lyndon Lee, partner at Lion Capital, said, “Led by the iconic Bumble Bee and Cloverleaf brands, the company has achieved an attractive record of consistent revenue growth and superior operating margins, even through economic downturns, through an unwavering focus on product quality, innovation and operational excellence.”

Chris Lischewski, Bumble Bee’s chief executive.  said he believed combining his company’s strong brands and strategy with Lion Capital’s consumer products know-how  would  lead to ongoing business growth and boost Bumble Bee’s market-leading positions in North America while expanding its global reach.

Earlier this year, Lion Capital successfully achieved the acquisition of French frozen foods maker Picard Surgeles in one of the biggest private equity deals seen in the country since the financial crisis. However, it missed out on Findus Italy which was bought by the rival private equity company Permira, which owns Birds Eye Iglo.

Lion, which acquired Young’s and Findus of Grimsby in July 2008,  has  agreed to buy  Bumble Bee from Centre Partners.