“Findus Group performance continues to be positive and we are on track with our plan, with operating cash-flow of £67M and EBITDA [pre-tax profit] of £91M for FY [full-year] 2014, up 4% on last year,” said James Hill, ceo of the international frozen food group in a bond holder update call on January 23.
“This is the second consecutive year of positive growth … Findus Group is on track to build on our success during 2014, our strategy is working and we remain optimistic for 2015.”
Reports surfaced on Sky News last week that Findus Group’s shareholders had begun discussing the possibility of selling its UK operations. However, the article claimed the process was at a very early stage, with advisers not yet appointed.
‘No sale process’
In response, Findus issued a brief statement, saying: “There is no sale process underway for the UK business, or any other part of Findus Group, at this time.”
Private equity house Lion Capital bought the Findus Group in 2008 and investment groups Highbridge Capital and JP Morgan each took a one third stake in the firm alongside Lion in 2012.
Private equity outfits commonly look to create value in a business within three to five years before selling it on at a profit. FoodManufacture.co.uk understands that Findus had been exploring options for investment for the past three years.
Any thoughts of a sale would have been hampered by the horsemeat scandal, which hit Findus hard when one of its frozen beef lasagnes was found to contain up to 100% horsemeat at the beginning of 2013. But its positive performance could perk the interest of acquisitive investors.
The group’s buoyant position was further demonstrated when it made two acquisitions last year. In February 2014 it bought the Lutosa branded retail business in Belgium. Earlier this month it also signed off an agreement of its intention to acquire La Cocinera frozen ready-to-eat meals business in Spain, subject to the approval of the Spanish competition authorities.
“We anticipate more organic growth, within Findus Group, and if similar acquisition opportunities arise in future then we will explore them,” said Hill during the bond holder call.