Unilever sells "iconic" frozen brands for £1.2 billion

28-08-2006

Global food and household product firm Unilever has announced that it is selling its frozen food businesses in Europe to Permira for €1.7 billion (£1.2 billion).

Although the deal is subject to regulatory approval, the private equity group expects the transaction to be completed before the end of year, gaining control of brands such as Bird's Eye and Iglo in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and the UK.

However, Unilever's ice cream businesses are not included in the deal, and the Anglo-Dutch firm will also retain its frozen food areas in Italy under the Findus name.

Patrick Cescau, chief executive of the group, explained that Unilever's centre of attention had increasingly been moved away from its frozen food divisions, although he admitted that the firm had enjoyed "many decades with tremendous products, iconic brands and memorable advertising".

"Having taken the decision to focus our portfolio on other priorities, I am confident that the business will prosper under the dedicated and focused management that Permira will bring," he said.

Commenting on the deal, Cheryl Potter, partner at Permira, added: "We are delighted that Permira is acquiring such iconic brands and look forward to supporting their growth going forward. The market sees few food deals of this size and very rarely involving brands of this stature."

Unilever, which employs about 3,500 people worldwide, made £117 million in profit from its frozen food divisions alone last year.


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