PAI Partners sells off its £460m ingredients firm

THE MORIBUND European private equity market showed some signs of life yesterday when PAI Partners agreed to sell its share in a Danish food ingredients firm for about €560m (£462m).

PAI will sell its a 25.7 per cent stake in Chr. Hansen to Novo, which is the main owner of drugmaker Novo Nordisk and industrial enzymes producer Novozymes, at 117 DKK (£13) per share.

PAI Partners exits after more than six years as a shareholder in Chr. Hansen, which supplies bioscience-based ingredients to the food, health and animal nutrition firms around the world.

PAI acquired Chr. Hansen in 2005 and floated part of it in June 2010.

The French private equity house has quadrupled its original investment.

Novo does not intend to take control of Chr. Hansen but to be a long-term minority shareholder, Novo chief executive Henrik Gurtler said in the statement.

The firm, which is based in Copenhagen, is now likely to make a series of further investments.

Buyout group PAI has stakes in a series of retailers around Europe as well as firms working in IT and residential property development.

It has also invested in United Biscuits, the British manufacturer of Penguin bars, Jaffa Cakes and Hula Hoops.