Teachers have sweet tooth for biscuit maker

Michael Bow
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BURTON’S Biscuits, the company behind retro favourites Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels, was sold yesterday to a Canadian pension fund investor for £350m.

The biscuit-maker, which also makes Maryland Cookies, will be taken over by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan’s private equity unit after Ontario beat 30 other suitors to take control of the coveted business.

The deal comes after Burton’s north American majority owners, Apollo Global Management and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), put the business up for sale in the summer, after four years of ownership.

Teachers’ private equity unit, Teachers Private Capital, will take their stake, which is worth around 70 per cent, according to the latest company accounts. Management will remain a minority shareholder with around 10 per cent.

Burton’s chief executive Ben Clarke said: “It was critical for the management team to find the right partner.”

The deal builds on Ontario’s recent foray into the UK buyout market after it snapped up Busy Bees Nursery late last month.

The fund, which has an office in London led by Jo Taylor, also owns National Lottery owner Camelot.

Taylor said it would try to grow the business through acquisitions overseas in a bid to crack lucrative emerging markets.

Around 85 per cent of Burton’s sales last year were in the UK and just 30 per cent comes from outside Europe. “There are also many strategic acquisitions to consider in those territories that can enhance these ambitious growth plans,” Taylor said.



Burtons and its owners Apollo and CIBC were advised by Linklaters’ corporate partners Carlton Evans and Matt Elliott, as well as corporate lawyers Carlos Gil Rivas and Aneeq Durrani. Credit Suisse’s William Mansfield was also advising on the sale.

Evans, who joined Linklaters in 1987 before rising to become partner a decade later, is a private equity specialist and works with clients on a range of issues, from M&A to refinancings. His most prominent work was advising on the $1.8bn deal put together by firms including GIC, CIC and Ontario Teachers to invest in Brazilian bank BTG Pactual three years ago.

He has also advised top European funds Apax, Nordic Capital and PAI Partners on a host of issues.

Evans received an MA in law from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. While at Linklaters, he was seconded to the UK Takeover Panel for two years in the late 1990s as one of its senior executives.

He has a strong track record in public-to-private deals, including those of Caffe Nero, LA Fitness, and Unilabs for a host of different clients.

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