Mitsubishi’s bid to offload Princes reignited by strong run of recent sales

Princes shelf-stable products.

A strong run of sales growth has reignited the bidding for U.K. shelf-stable product brand Princes, which is being offered up by Mitsubishi for a minimum of GBP 600 million (USD 770 million, EUR 702 million).

The Japanese conglomerate, which has owned Princes since 1989, is entertaining bids from at least three bidders and is expected to collect GBP 700 million (USD 854 million, EUR 807 million) for the brand, according to The Grocer. British private equity firm Epiris and U.S. firms Lone Star and One Rock Capital Partners are preparing final bids for the brand, which had GBP 1.5 billion (USD 1.9 billion, EUR 1.7 billion) in sales in 2022.

Princes offers a wide range of ambient food products, including canned tuna, sardines, salmon, and mackerel. Mitsubishi first offered Princes up for sale in 2022, but with sales down for the 12 months ending March 2022, Mitsubishi paused the process after bids came in no higher than GBP 400 million (USD 513 million, EUR 468 million), much lower than the valuation Mitsubishi made at the time of GBP 600 million (USD 770 million, EUR 702 million). Since then, Princes has successfully passed through its rising costs to customers, upping sales over the spring and summer, launching a potential bidding war at a higher-than-expected price, The Grocer reported, which reported a deal will be finalized by the end of 2023.

Other private equity firms including Valeo, a fund run by Bain Capital, as well as Italian food conglomerate Newlat, German private equity firm Aurelius, and U.S. firm TPG all previously expressed interest in Princes but it’s unclear whether any is still in the bidding.

A Princes spokesman declined to identify any of the prospective buyers.

“Princes does not respond to market speculation suffice to say that in the normal course of business, we routinely seek to identify growth and investment strategies. No decisions have been taken,” it told The Grocer.

Photo courtesy of Princes


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