Buyout fund CVC hires banks for $1.1 billion Continental Foods sale, say sources: Reuters

Private equity fund CVC Capital Partners has picked advisers to sell its food firm Continental Foods in a deal that could be worth more than 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion), sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.

The business, which produces soups, sauces and bouillons, includes brands like Liebig in France and Erasco in Germany.
CVC has owned it since late 2013, when it purchased it from Campbell Soup (CPB.N) for 400 million euros ($447.1 million).

CVC’s decision to sell Continental Foods comes amid a wave of deal-making in the packaged food sector where large companies are looking for ways to boost profits in a weak market.

Unilever (ULVR.L) (UNc.AS) is trying to sell its margarines business after rebuffing a takeover bid by Kraft Heinz (KHC.O), while Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.L) is selling its French mustard business.

Nestle (NESN.S) said last week that it would explore options, including a possible sale, for its roughly $900 million-a-year U.S. confectionery business.

London-based CVC, which recently raised a record 16 billion euros for its latest fund, is working with Swiss bank UBS (UBSG.S) and Paris-based investment boutique Messier Maris on a possible sale, the sources, who declined to be identified as the process is private, said.

Continental Foods, CVC, UBS and Messier Maris declined to comment.

Based near Antwerp in Belgium, Continental employs more than 1,000 staff across Europe. It has production facilities in France, Belgium and Germany and is active in five European markets including Finland and Sweden with revenues of about 400 million euros.

It could fetch more than 1 billion euros, based on a multiple of 12 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of around 90 million euros, the sources said.

Private equity funds typically look to sell or list their portfolio companies within three to five years, hoping to cash out with a profit.