View Full Version : US group to buy Birds Eye, says FT

Davie Tait
20th April 2015, 17:41

Posted on April 20, 2015 by Jenny Hjul • 0 Comments

BIRDS Eye, the iconic frozen food company famous throughout Britain for its fish fingers and frozen peas, could be about to fall under American ownership.

The Financial Times is reporting today that the private equity company Permira has agreed to sell Iglo, the parent company, to Nomad Holdings for around £1.9 billion – or 2.6 billion euros.

Nomad Holdings was established last year to create a global consumer brands company. There is also a Birds Eye frozen food company in the US, but it is under separate ownership.

There have been persistent rumours about Birds Eye for the past year, including reports that it could be floated on the Stock Market.

Iglo has large food operations in Germany and Italy, as well as the UK, and employs about 2,900 people throughout Europe.

Birds Eye was founded after Clarence Birdseye, an American explorer and scientist, spotted the preservative effects of quick freezing on a hunting trip 100 years ago.

Unilever bought the UK business in the 1940s and expanded in Britain (it once had large factories in Grimsby and Hull) before moving into Europe.

The company’s fish fingers became a staple of British dinner tables in the 1970s, helped by the popularity of Captain Birds Eye, the bearded sea dog who promised ‘only the best for the captain’s table’ in TV adverts.

The character was dropped from Iglo ads last year, but he is still on British fish fingers packs.

The US tycoons Martin Franklin and Noam Gottesman listed Nomad a year ago to buy a business as the first move in creating a global consumer brands company.

Permira bought Birds Eye from Unilever in 2006 for £1.3 billion. It is expected to keep a small stake in Iglo. It tried to sell the group in 2012 but offers did not meet the asking price and it withdrew from talks.

There was no official comment from either side today, which suggests a deal is imminent.