Birds Eye to acquire Unilever Italian unit

by Eric Schroeder
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FELTHAM, U.K. — Birds Eye Iglo, which is owned by private equity firm Permira Advisers L.P., has agreed to acquire Unilever P.L.C.’s Italian Frozen Foods business, Findus, for approximately €805 million ($1.043 billion).

The transaction would include the Italian Findus business, comprising the following brands: 4 Salti in Padella, Sofficini, Capitan Findus and That’s Amore. The acquisition also would include a factory in Cisterna, Italy.

“Findus is the lynchpin of an attractive and profitable frozen foods business and I am confident that it will prosper under the dedicated resource and focused management that the new owners will bring,” said James Hill, chairman of Unilever Italy. “With this deal Unilever is now in a stronger position to focus on its core categories outside frozen foods and to achieve long-term growth in the Italian market.”

As part of the agreement, approximately 650 factory and head office employees will transfer. Sales of Findus Italy were €462 million in 2009. The transaction is subject to relevant E.U. anti-trust regulatory approvals.

Permira Funds acquired most of Unilever’s European frozen foods unit, including the Iglo and Birds Eye brands, in 2006 for €1.73 billion.
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