Birds Eye confirm interest in Findus Italy 05 July, 2010 –
BIRDS EYE have confirmed that it is interested in acquiring Findus Italy, the big European frozen seafood and frozen food business.
A month ago Fishupdate revealed that Birds Eye’s private equity owner Permira and Lion Capital, the private equity group which includes the main northern European Findus company and Young’s Seafood in its portfolio, were likely to be battling out for Findus Italy, which has been offered by sale by Unilever.
Now Martin Glenn, chief executive of Birds Eye Iglo told the Sunday Telegraph at the weekend that he was interested in the Italian business.
Permira bought Birds Eye Iglo from Unilever for £1.2 billion in 2006, but it was not without controversy. The new owners closed down the Hull fish finger factory with the loss of nearly 400 jobs and moved fish finger production to Germany.
Unilever is thought to want around £660-million for Findus Italy, which is big in fish, and Mr Glenn told the Sunday Telegraph that while was keen to buy the business he said he “did not need it”, adding that it was being sold in a difficult market.
Birds Eye, which last year sold 563 million fish fingers in the UK, is likely to face competition from Lion Capital which owns the Findus Group that also includes Young’s and The Seafood Company. Despite the same name the two ‘Findus’s’ are not yet connected. They share the brand from an earlier situation almost a generation ago when they were one company.
The final bids for Findus Italy are due this week and it is thought that least three other private equity businesses are interested in buying the business which last year had earnings before tax and depreciation totalling around £74-million.