A private equity firm that counts Jimmy Choo, the upmarket footwear brand, among its previous investments, is engineering a dual swoop on the European food sector that would include swallowing the Fox’s Biscuits brand.
Sky News has learnt that Towerbrook Capital Partners is plotting the takeover of Biscuit International (BI), a private-label manufacturer whose operations include Northumbrian Fine Foods, a UK-based producer.
Towerbrook is said to be in discussions to buy BI from Qualium Investissement, a French-headquartered buyout firm.
City sources said that Towerbrook had drawn up plans to combine BI with Fox’s Biscuits, which is owned by Boparan Holdings, the British food company whose founder is nicknamed ‘the chicken king’ because of his extensive poultry industry interests.
Completing the purchases of both biscuit-makers is far from guaranteed, but would create a powerful player in a European sector that is increasingly being forced to address healthier consumption trends, according to people close to the situation.
BI employs approximately 1,500 people, and owns production sites across the Continent, including at Gateshead in the North East.
The Northumbrian Fine Foods operation owns the Prewett’s brand, and was acquired by BI last year.
It is the UK’s largest gluten-free and milk-free biscuit manufacturer.
Towerbrook’s interest in the two biscuit-makers follows the private equity firm’s investment in Dutch food manufacturer Van Geloven, which was partly sold to McCain Foods in 2016.
It has also backed KeHe Distributors, another food company.
Towerbrook’s interest in Fox’s Biscuits is understood to be at a comparatively early stage.
It was unclear on Monday whether the buyout firm was in formal talks with Boparan Holdings, which owns the 2Sisters Food Group behind Holland’s Pies and Matthew Walker, the UK’s biggest producer of Christmas puddings.
2Sisters is engaged in a separate process to sell Matthew Walker.
It has held on-off talks to dispose of Fox’s Biscuits for several years, including an attempt to combine it with Burton’s Biscuits in 2017.
Ranjit Boparan, 2Sisters’ owner, has been seeking to offload assets in an effort to pay down debt following a food safety crisis at its poultry operations.
Towerbrook declined to comment.
Credit: Source link