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Lyndon Lea, Partner of Lion Capital. (Photo: Lion Capital/FIS)

Lion Capital works to acquire Bumble Bee

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Friday, November 05, 2010, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

Lion Capital LLP has announced a deal whereby funds advised by Lion Capital will acquire Bumble Bee Foods’ operating companies. The owner of chief European frozen food company Findus Group, Lion Capital said the transaction will be finalised by year-end.

Bumble Bee, a portfolio company of Centre Partners Management LLC, is the top supplier of shelf-stable seafood in North America and one of the globe’s leading 10 branded seafood firms. It produces and markets shelf-stable tuna, salmon, sardines, clams and other specialty seafood products sold under the Bumble Bee and Clover Leaf brands, among others.

“We are excited about the opportunity to acquire one of North America's best-known consumer packaged goods companies and a portfolio of brands that enjoy unrivalled positions with US and Canadian consumers,” said Lyndon Lea, Partner of Lion Capital. “Led by the iconic Bumble Bee and Clover Leaf brands, the company has achieved an attractive record of consistent revenue growth and superior operating margins, even through economic downturns, through an unwavering focus on product quality, innovation and operational excellence.”

Chris Lischewski, Bumble Bee CEO, said he believes combining his company’s strong brands and strategy with Lion Capital’s consumer products knowhow will lead to ongoing business growth and boost Bumble Bee’s market-leading positions in North America while expanding its global reach.

Back in August, Bumble Bee informed that it had engaged JP Morgan Securities Inc as its financial advisor to explore several strategic alternatives available to it and/or its direct and indirect subsidiaries. 

That same month, the firm made a deal with Massachusetts-based Live Lobster Co, Inc, to sell the North America seafood company's former sardine manufacturing plant at Prospect Harbour, Maine. Live Lobster is assuming control of the plant and will expand its lobster supply, sales and distribution business into Prospect Harbour.

Prior to that, Bumble Bee closed down the last sardine cannery in the US in April following drastic government cuts to the amount of herring fishers can now catch in the northeastern US coast due to overfishing.

Lion Capital – also owner of Birds Eye Iglo – began bidding for consumer goods group Unilever's Findus Italy for a venture value of some EUR 700 million earlier this year. Lion Capital bought Findus Group in 2008 for EUR 1.3 billion.

London-based investment firm Lion Capital has led the investment of over EUR 5 billion of equity capital in consumer businesses across Europe and North America totalling over EUR 19 billion of enterprise value. 

Bumble Bee sells its products at every major US and Canadian food retailer and food distributor. It employs 1,700 workers across eight facilities in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico and last year reached over USD 940 million of net revenue.

Related articles:

- Last US sardine cannery sold 
- Last US sardine cannery folds 
- Food groups, private equity go after seafood companies

By Natalia Real



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