Takeover speculation continues with Princes Foods in sights of suitors

Liverpool-based Princes Foods is the focus of buyout speculation.

It follows reports in January this year that its owner, Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi which bought Princes in 1989, had hired Houlihan Lokey to oversee a sale of the £1.435bn-turnover business based in the Royal Liver Building.

Now, Sky News claims Bain Capital-backed Valeo Foods and Aurelius Group are among a pack of would-be suitors interested in taking Princes off Mitsubishi’s hands.

Industry sources value Princes at £400m, depending on the competitiveness of any auction.

Princes’ portfolio of licenced and owned brands includes Branston, Batchelors’, Flora, Olivio, Crisp ‘n’ Dry, Jucee and Princes itself.

Valeo owns brands such as Rowse honey and Kettle Chips crisps.

Capvest, Valeo’s former owner, could also be a possible bidder for Princes.

Princes was originally founded in Liverpool in 1880 as Simpson & Roberts.

Customers include major supermarkets, convenience stores, foodservice operators, wholesale suppliers and other food manufacturers.

Its brands and products span more than 20 different categories including fish, meat, fruit, vegetables, soups, pastes, pasta, cooking sauces, edible oils and a broad range of soft drinks sectors.

Princes was unavailable for comment, but when possible takeover reports emerged in January it said it did not respond to market speculation, adding that management “routinely seek to identify growth and investment strategies”.

Sarah Riding, a food and drink partner at commercial law firm Gowling WLG, responded to the takeover speculation, saying: “There is a real opportunity here to breathe life back into a stable, but fatigued product range that still contributes to the staple purchases many households make.

“The fact that interest has been expressed by a firm that already owns well-recognised, established global brands demonstrates the potential for Princes to be turned around and accelerated in terms of implementing the right supply chain and distribution techniques to bring it up to par.”

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