Exponent PE, Intermediate Capital Buy Premier Unit

Private equity firms Exponent Private Equity and Intermediate Capital Group have agreed to pay 205 million pounds ($326.7 million) to buy the meat-free business of Britain’s Premier Foods, Reuters reported. The sale of the business unit, which includes vegetarian products and meat-free sausages, will help Premier reduce its debt, Reuters said.

(Reuters) – Britain’s largest food producer Premier Foods (PFD.L) agreed to sell its meat-free business for 205 million pounds ($326.7 million) to a private equity consortium, helping it to reduce its debt.

The foods group said on Monday that it had agreed to sell the unit – which includes its range of Quorn vegetarian products and Cauldron meat-free sausages – to Exponent Private Equity and Intermediate Capital Group (ICP.L).

The disposal would help reduce its debt as a proportion of earnings, said Premier, also the maker of Bisto gravy and Branston pickle.

At 205 million pounds, the value of the disposal was lower than the 230 million pounds flagged by media reports in December, when Premier confirmed it was in advanced talks with two parties, one of which was believed to be the world’s biggest food group Nestle (NESN.VX).

“This deal represents another step along the road to achieving a capital structure which we believe will be more attractive to investors,” said Chief Executive Robert Schofield.

Shares in Premier Foods were up 1.3 percent to 22.65 pence at 0925 GMT, paring earlier gains of as much as 6 percent.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)