Private equity firm Permira sells Birds Eye owner Iglo to US-based Nomad Holdings

Signage outside the Birds Eye factory in Lowestoft.

Signage outside the Birds Eye factory in Lowestoft. - Credit: Picture: Nick Butcher

The company behind the Birds Eye frozen foods factory in Lowestoft has been sold by private equity firm Permira to a acquisition specialist based in the United States.

Iglo Group, which formed in 2010 after Permira acquired the Iglo and Birds Eye brands from from Unilever in a deal valued at £1.4billion, is now to become part of Nomad Holdings which is to pay 2.6bn euros (around £1.9bn) for the business.

Under Permira, Iglo has become the largest frozen food business in Europe, with Fidus Italy having been added later in 2010 through a deal valued at £669m.

It has sales in a total of 12 countries but with the UK and Ireland, where it uses the Birds Eye Brand, Germany, where it trades as Iglo, and Italy, where it contiinues to operate as Findus, accounting for 85% of its 1.5bn euros (£1.1bn) turnover.

Reports that Permira was seeking a buyer for Iglo first surfaced in 2012. The sale to Nomad is expected to be completed by the end of June, with Permira retaining a 9% stake in the business.

Cheryl Potter, head of Permira’s global consumer team, said: “We are very proud to have helped Iglo Group over the past eight years to become the undisputed European market leader in branded frozen foods.

“With the backing of the Permira Funds, the company has been able to invest heavily in product innovation and brand marketing as well as to achieve pan-European scale with the acquisition of Findus Italy in 2010.

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“Iglo Group is a great example of how we partner with leading consumer brands and support them, including during tougher economic times, to foster innovation and build a platform for sustainable growth.

“Iglo Group today is the most trusted brand in European frozen food and the fact that it will be the foundational investment in Nomad’s portfolio of market-leading, niche consumer foods companies speaks volumes to the strength of the company, its powerful brands and exciting growth prospects.

We are pleased that the Permira funds will remain invested alongside Nomad as the company embarks on the next phase of its journey.”

Iglo chief executive Elio Leoni Sceti, who is to leave in July to take up another chief executive role but will become a non-executive director on the Nomad board, said: “The partnership between Iglo Group and the Permira funds has achieved great success.

“Together we have created a new vision and strategy which has delivered growth in 8 out of 12 markets, driven by meaningful innovation which is revitalising consumer interest in frozen food.

“For my part, the last two years at Iglo Group have been hugely fulfilling and I am leaving at a time when I feel that the strategic transformation of the business is largely complete. Innovation inspired by consumers has been at the heart of our strategy and I am particularly proud of the innovation platforms we have created.

“I am pleased that Iglo Group, in the hands of an excellent management team, is well-placed to deliver on the ambitions that the group has set itself.”

Nomad Holdings is owned by Noam Gottesman, founder of investment firm Toms Capital and co-founder of hedge fund GLG Partners, and Martin Franklin, founder of Jarden Corp, which has acquired many consumer brands. The company described Iglo as its “anchor investment” and said further acquisitions would follow.