Nomad Foods in talks to buy Findus European frozen food business-Reuters

(Reuters) Nomad Foods Ltd (NHL.L) is in exclusive early talks with private equity-owned frozen food maker Findus Group [FODVT.UL] about buying its continental European business and the Findus brand, it said on Wednesday.

No potential deal value was given by Nomad, which said in a statement that there was no certainty a transaction would result.

Findus Group is one of Europe’s biggest frozen food and seafood companies with over 1 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) in annual turnover and 6,000 employees. Its headquarters are in the UK, where it runs the Young’s Seafood business which sells branded products and also supplies major UK grocers with private label seafood. Under the Findus label it sells frozen food in countries including the Nordics, Spain and France.

Findus, which is backed by investors including Lion Capital, acquired Nestle’s (NESN.VX) Spanish frozen ready meals business, La Cocinera, in April, and reported 2014 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 91 million pounds ($139.09 million), up 4 percent, helped by cost cuts.

Nomad is an acquisition company set up in 2014 by deal-making veterans Martin Franklin and Noam Gottesman. Pershing Square Capital Management, the hedge fund run by U.S. billionaire William Ackman, owns 22 percent of Nomad, a filing on Tuesday showed.

Nomad’s statement confirmed a report on the talks from Bloomberg News and came two days after Nomad’s new chief executive told Reuters the company was keen on more frozen food deals following its $2.8 billion purchase of Iglo Foods, which already owns the Findus brand in Italy.