BC PARTNERS has agreed to sell French frozen-food firm Picard Surgeles to rival Lion Capital, highlighting the keen appetite of private equity firms to strike deals in the recession-resilient food industry.
The sale of Picard, which has thrived by persuading France’s fastidious consumers that convenience food can be high-quality, is the country’s biggest leveraged buyout (LBO) since the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.
In a joint statement yesterday, which contained no financial details, the firms said Lion would begin talks with employee representatives this week ahead of a formal agreement and the transaction was likely to complete in the fourth quarter.
Three people familiar with the matter said the deal placed an enterprise value of about €1.5bn (£1.3bn) on Picard. BC would make roughly double its initial
equity investment, one of the people said.
Two of the people said Lion made a pre-emptive bid over the weekend to head off rivals Bain Capital, CVC and LBO France, who were also preparing binding bids for the company.
Bain, CVC and LBO?France all declined to comment yesterday.