Permira is on the verge of picking up frozen food business Findus Italy from current owner Unilever for over €800m through portfolio company Birds Eye Iglo, according to the Financial Times.
The purchase is being financed with €500m of debt and €300m of equity. The deal means that Permira now holds all of Unilever’s European frozen food operations, following its acquisition of Birds Eye and Iglo in 2006. Any sale of Birds Eye has reportedly been pushed back by at least two years while the firm integrates Findus Italy with its existing holding’s main operations.
Unilever is to hold on to its Italian ice cream business, which includes the Viennette, Solero and Cornetto brands, meaning the unit will have to be split from Findus Italy before the handover. The sale was only agreed after a weekend of intense negotiation, and was reportedly yet to be signed as of last night.
There was strong competition for the company from Lion Capital, which counts the Findus Group as a portfolio company.
Lion Capital has also reportedly been named as one of the private equity bidders for another frozen foods company, French retailer Picard Surgeles, along with Clayton Dubilier & Rice, CVC Capital Partners, Cinven and Eurazeo.
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