Unilever signs agreement to sell European frozen foods business

Unilever today announced that it had reached an agreement to sell the majority of its European Frozen Foods business to the Permira Funds for €1.725bn. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval and a consultative process with the relevant employee works councils, is expected to be completed before the end of the year. 

The Unilever businesses being sold in this transaction include the Frozen Foods operations in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal and United Kingdom. The decision to sell the businesses followed a thorough study into the strategic options for the future of the Frozen Foods business.

Patrick Cescau, Group Chief Executive, said: "The Frozen Foods business has been great for Unilever over many decades with tremendous products, iconic brands and memorable advertising delivering value for our shareholders. Having taken the decision to focus our portfolio on other priorities, I am confident that the business will prosper under the dedicated and focused management that the Permira Funds will bring."

Cheryl Potter, Partner at Permira, commented, "We are delighted the Permira Funds are acquiring such iconic brands and look forward to supporting their growth going forward. The market sees few food deals of this size and very rarely involving brands of this stature."

Further information:

  • Turnover in 2005 was €1 237m and EBITDA of €174m on an on-going, fully-allocated cost basis
  • The transaction represents multiples of 1.4 X annual sales and 9.9 X EBITDA
  • The sale is expected to result in a one-off profit, after tax, in excess of €1bn
  • As part of normal consultation processes there will be discussions with the relevant employee works councils and Trade Unions
  • Unilever remains firmly committed to sustainability programmes and activities in all areas of its business, and will work with the Permira Funds to transfer knowledge and best practice in this area.
  • The sale includes the total frozen food portfolio under the Iglo and Bird's Eye brands in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal and United Kingdom
  • Unilever will retain its Frozen Food business under the brand name Findus in Italy
  • The sale of our Portuguese business is subject to the agreement of the JV partner in Portugal
  • The Frozen Food business in Spain is not included in the sale having previously been sold to Bonduelle two months ago
  • Ice cream is not included in the sale
  • Bertolli/Knorr Frozen in North America is not included in the sale

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