THE private equity firm CapVest appears to be closing in on a deal which will reunite it with Grimsby-based Young’s Seafood, according to weekend financial reports.
The Mail On Sunday said that talks were at an advanced stage and CapVest was prepared to pay up to £200 million for the UK’s largest seafood producer.
The current private equity owners, led by Lion Capital, announced in April that they were putting Young’s up for sale.
Since then the company has been re-aligning much of its business back to its Grimsby home, a move which controversially saw the closure of the Pinneys salmon plant in Annan in Scotland.
CapVest is an Irish private equity business run by dealmaker Seamus Fitzpatrick and specialises in giant food brands, including Jacob’s Cream Crackers and Batchelors.
City sources said is now ‘the preferred bidder’. In August, Fishupdate reported that CapVest was leading the pack.
CapVest bought Young’s in a £137 million deal in 2002 and sold it off six years later, so it knows the business well.
Other likely contenders include the giant Japanese Mitsubishi Corporation, which has a separate food division and owns the Norwegian salmon farmer Cermaq and fishing quota organisation UK Fisheries.
Young’s, which employs almost 2,000 people, spent £1.5 million buying a 13-acre site in Grimsby, which has been earmarked for future expansion.
Sales have been rising over the past 18 months and last year it launched its products into the United States and Canada. Long term, the company is looking at China for future growth.