Battle to buy Young’s Seafood sees Mitsubishi, UK Fisheries entering bids

The race to buy U.K.-based Young’s Seafood is on, with three potential firms currently vying to acquire the frozen food manufacturer for as much as GBP 200 million (USD 255 million, EUR 223 million), according to a recent report from The Telegraph.

Young’s present lineup of bidders includes former private equity owner CapVest, Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation, and UK Fisheries, the newspaper reported. The deal, which could fetch between GBP 170 million (USD 217 million, EUR 190 million) to GBP 200 million (USD 255 million, EUR 223 million), is expected to close at some point in September, although the timetable and bidding pool may change as the negotiation process progresses.  

Stamford Partners, a boutique investment house, is at the helm of the sale process. The company has been fielding a great deal of interest and inquiry from private equity and rivals within the seafood sector, it told The Telegraph.

Young’s has been officially up for sale since April 2018, with current owners Lion Capital, Bain Capital, and HPS Investment Partners ready to say goodbye to the business after a decade in the driver’s seat. The three private equity investment firms purchased Young’s Seafood, and the Findus brands, for GBP 1.1 billion (USD 1.4 billion, EUR 1.2 billion) from CapVest 10 years ago. 

In 2015, Lion broke up the operation of the company by selling the European arm of Findus to Birds Eye owner Nomad Foods for GBP 500 million (USD 638 million, EUR 559 million). That sale left just Young’s operation in the United Kingdom under the investment firms’ ownership.

Each bidder pursuing Young’s now is doing so for unique reasons. Were CapVest to acquire the firm, Young’s would be in familiar hands – the private equity business owned Young’s until it offloaded the company to Lion Capital, Bain Capital, and HPS Investment Partners in 2008. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi is looking to bring Young’s under the same banner as canned fish manufacturer Princes Foods, according to The Telegraph, and UK Fisheries is a local organization formed of parties owning quotas to catch whitefish, a prized category among Young’s extensive portfolio. 

Young’s employs nearly 2,000 workers, and has been established since 1805, courtesy of Elizabeth Young and her family. The latest company figures show annual sales for the company growing by 5 percent to GBP 523 million (USD 668 million, EUR 585 million).


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