Kerry considers sale of French fruit ingredients arm

By Laura Crowley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Kerry, Confectionery, European union

Kerry Group is in negotiations over the sale of its fruit
ingredients division, with a possible bidder rumoured to be Swedish
private equity company Industri Kapital.

News about the sale broke in the British press before Kerry was ready to reveal any information on the matter. While not wanting to give a name of the bidder, director of corporate affairs Frank Hayes said: "We can confirm we had an approach regarding the sale of this business, that may or may not lead to a sale." ​ Irish company Kerry has undergone some reorganisation since 1996, when difficulties in raising prices to recover the increased cost of energy slowed down its growth. While continuing its focus on driving price increases through as part of a programme to recover costs, Kerry Group also decided to make more investments in developing new products as well as eliminating what chief executive Hugh Friel called "non-core activities". ​ According to The Financial Times​, the potential buyer is Industri Kapital, but the company refused to comment on the issue to FoodNavigator.com, saying its policy was not to respond to rumours. The British paper said executives from Kerry and met representatives from Industri Kapital two weeks ago in Lyon. Industri Kapital acquires and develops companies, currently managing €5.7bn in fund commitments. In the past 18 years it has acquired 65 companies, only 8 per cent of which are concerned with food production. Kerry Fruit Ingredients, which Kerry acquired in 1996 from specialist fruit company Ciprial SA, produces candied fruit for the European market. Ciprial was originally part of the Midial food corporation, and comprised two French companies and two Italian companies. It is thought that only the French businesses are up for sale. Kerry's acquisition of the fruit division had cost £50m (€70m) and strengthened Kerry's position as a supplier of specialist fruit preparations to European dairy, ice cream and confectionery companies, while establishing it as a market leader in the candied fruit and marron glaces sectored in Europe. Kerry's fruit ingredients division is believed to control about a third of the European market for candied fruit and generates sales of €100m to €200m (£71m - £143m).

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