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Lion Capital wards off Triton for frozen food maker Findus

10 Jul 2012

Consumer-focused private equity firm Lion Capital is reported to have fended off takeover attempts from rival Triton Partners for its stake in frozen food maker Findus.

Triton failed to convince the debt-ridden company’s senior lenders including Société Générale, Nordea and RBS to seize control of Findus and hand it over for around £300m.

Senior lenders have instead allowed Lion to inject £150m of capital alongside other creditors to retain control of the business, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

Findus will in part be taken over by the holders of its mezzanine debt, while Lion will retain around a one-third stake in the business.

Highbridge Capital and JPMorgan Chase will jointly own around half of the company in exchange for £70m of their debt being written off, the report added.

Triton tabled its offer last month as Findus struggled with restructuring negotiations with banks after its debts spun out of control.

Lion bought the business in 2008 for £1.1bn, a deal backed with a debt package worth around £700m.

Findus, which employs more than 6,000 people and produces 345,000 tonnes of food annually, posted a net loss of £151.6m in 2010 due to the high interest payments on its debt, which forced it to cut jobs and close manufacturing sites.

Lion has recently struggled to maintain the performance of its portfolio companies amid a wider backdrop of economic volatility that has hit the consumer sector hard.

In February La Senza, the embattled high street lingerie retailer backed by Lion, came to an agreement with Alshaya that will see the Middle Eastern retail group rescue the company’s UK operations in a pre-pack administration deal.

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