Lion Capital In Talks To Sell Kettle Foods

LONDON (Reuters) – Lion Capital, the consumer-sector focused private equity firm, is seeking to sell upmarket potato crisps maker Kettle Foods for about $700 million, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Lion, whose other portfolio companies include the Wagamama chain of noodle restaurants and Weetabix breakfast cereal, has hired investment bank Rothschild [ROT.UL] to help sell the Salem, Oregon-based company, the person added.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier PepsiCo Inc (PEP.N) unit Frito-Lay and U.S. pretzel maker Snyder’s of Hanover Inc were among those seeking to buy Kettle.

Kettle employs about 730 people and generated sales of $235 million in 2008, according to Lion’s website.

The buyout firm acquired Kettle in 2006. A source familiar with the matter said then the purchase valued Kettle at between $280 million and $320 million.

Lion declined to comment. Representatives of Rothschild and Kettle Foods could not immediately be reached for comment. (Reporting by Quentin Webb; Editing by David Holmes)