Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst has bought some of food giant Nestle's UK food businesses for an estimated 120 million pounds (€192 million) it announced last week.
Hicks Muse, the US private equity group, is buying Nestle brands which include Crosse & Blackwell, Branston Pickle, Sarson's vinegar, Gale's honey, Sun-Pat peanut butter and Rowntree's jelly, through its UK grocery business Premier International Foods, according to a Reuters report.
The report notes that the businesses being bought had sales of over 100 million pounds in 2001, but Hicks Muse declined to give the price of the deal.
The brands will join Hicks Muse's Premier business which it bought in August 1999 as part of its acquisition of Hillsdown Holdings and will be added to Premier brands Hartley's jam, Typhoo tea, HP sauces and Chivers marmalade, among others.
The transaction includes three manufacturing plants at Hadfield and Middleton, near Manchester in northwest England, and Tallaght in Northern Ireland.
Hicks Muse had divided the old Hillsdown business into two separate operations, Premier and Horizon Biscuits, and this deal marks the first major acquisition for Premier.
"The acquisition of Nestle's ambient food businesses represents a major strategic step forward for Premier and continues our initiative of building a leading branded, category focused food company," said Lyndon Lea, a London-based partner of Hicks Muse.
Horizon acquired the Wagon Wheels Burton Biscuit unit from Associated British Foods in October 2000 to add to its brands which include Cadbury biscuits and Maryland Cookies.
A Hick Muse statement made no mention of a possible flotation of either Premier or Horizon, after another UK food group Rank Hovis McDougall, owned by private equity group Doughty Hanson, appointed Credit Suisse First Boston to look at its options which include a possible 1.5 billion pound float.