At an Extraordinary General Meeting meeting yesterday, stakeholders in the world's number one culture maker cleared the way for PAI to pay €1.1 billion for the business. The deal exceeded expectations, with the private equity company buying on a price to sales of 2.2 times. For Chr Hansen, the new owner brings cash and with it strong opportunities for growth through acquisitions. Speaking to FoodNavigator.com recently, the new CEO Lars V. Frederiksen of Chr Hansen said PAI provides a strong financial partner to allow "us to be more aggressive". "Private equity adds value by investing, to grow margins and cash flow, and to build further," added Frederiksen, who last month took the reins from former CEO Erik Soerensen after the latter plumped for early retirement. According to the new CEO, capital investments are expected in factories, R&D, and marketing efforts. Basically an acceleration of our existing strategies, he comments. PAI is not the first, and certainly not the last, private equity firm to invest in the stable European food and drink industry. According to a report from 3i, private equity and venture capital invested in Europe's food and drink companies nearly doubled from €2.7 billion in 2001 to €4.5 billion in 2002. The largest industrial sector in the EU, with a turnover of €799 billion in 2003 on 1.9 per cent growth on the previous year, the food and drink industry is attracting new investors through private equity. Stocks in the industry have outperformed other industries in the past two years to 2003, but the industry is safe rather than exciting, claims the report. Despite this, while overall investment volumes fell, the European food and drink industry has consistently pulled in more private equity funding than other industries, technology aside.