Mitsubishi selling Princes to Italy’s Newlat Food

A range of Princes products
A range of Princes products | Photo courtesy of Princes Group
6 Min

Newlat Group, a publicly listed multi-channel player in the branded food segment, is acquiring Princes Group from Mitsubishi for GBP 700 million (USD 894 million, EUR 822.3 million).

Headquartered in Liverpool, U.K., and managed from the Netherlands, Princes is one of the U.K.’s largest food and beverage firms, and its range includes a variety of shelf-stable tuna, sardine, salmon, and mackerel products.

Reggio Emilia, Italy-based Newlat Group is involved with the pasta, milk, dairy, bakery, and instant noodle sectors in the U.K., Germany, France, and Italy, under its own brands and via private-label contracting.

The combined company will change its name to New Princes Group once the transaction is finalized.

“This is an exciting prospect for Princes, and we are delighted that Newlat share our confidence in the group’s strategic growth plans, brand strategy, operational excellence, and people culture,” Princes CEO Simon Harrison, who was hired in April 2024, said in a 27 May press release. “The intended sale remains an ongoing process, and further information will be shared in due course.”

The combined entity will have EUR 2.8 billion (USD 3 billion) in annual revenue and EUR 188 million (EUR 204.4 million) in adjusted EBITDA. Princes generated consolidated revenue for 2024 fiscal year, ending 31 March 2024, of GBP 1.71 billion (USD 2.18 billion, EUR 2 billion) and adjusted EBITDA of GBP 100.5 million (USD 128.3 million, EUR 118 million), while its adjusted net profit surpassed GBP 13 million (USD 16.6 million, EUR 15.3 million).

Approval of Princes’ Dutch Works Councils is required before the final purchase agreement is signed, and the transaction is also subject to the receipt of a number of customary regulatory approvals, finalization of the group’s audited accounts, and consultation with the European Works Council, Newlat Group said. It estimated the transaction will be approved by the end of July 2024.

“We are extremely proud to have reached an agreement for this transaction, which marks a fundamental milestone in our growth strategy,” Newlat Food President Angelo Mastrolia said. “Princes Limited is a prestigious company, and the integration of its activities with Newlat Food allows us to further consolidate our leading position in the food sector. Newlat Food will become one of the largest food companies listed on the Milan stock exchange, strengthening its role as an international protagonist. The economic prospects of the new group give us confidence in a future of sustainable growth, ready to create value for all stakeholders.”

Mitsubishi initiated its sale of Princes 15 months ago but paused the process in July 2023 after receiving offers no higher than GBP 400 million (USD 513 million, EUR 468 million). The sale ran into financial headwinds due to high interest rates and an uncertain economic climate, but Princes successfully implemented prices increases in the fall of 2023, reigniting interest from potential buyers. Newlat issued a public statement in February 2024 saying it had halted negotiations after Mitsubishi rebuffed an offer that “took into account lower demand and price dynamics in a U.K. market buffeted by headwinds.

Princes posted a GBP 50.6 million (USD 64.6 million, EUR 59.5 million) pre-tax loss in the 2023 fiscal year, ending 31 March 2023, down from a profit of GBP 28.9 million (USD 36.9 million, EUR 34 million) in 2022, despite growing total sales from GBP 1.44 billion (USD 1.84 billion, EUR 1.69 billion) to GBP 1.74 billion (USD 2.22 billion, EUR 2.04 billion). Prior to the acquisition, Princes said it had seen significant improvement in its financial performance in its 2024 fiscal year.

Princes has recently pushed for greater sustainability in its tuna supply chain, including at its tuna-processing facility in Mauritius and through its support of tuna fishery improvement projects (FIPs). It recently achieved its goal of sourcing 100 percent of its U.K. Princes-branded tuna from Marine Stewardship Council-certified sustainable fisheries.

Newlat will pay GBP 650 million (USD 830 million, EUR 763.5 million) in cash and GBP 50 million (USD 63.9 million, EUR 58.7 million) in shares to Mitsubishi, funded via ...

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