Bachelors and Jacob Fruitfield merger could create major ambient ‘player’

Chief executive of the Jacob Fruitfield Food Group, Michael Carey, said he is interested in developing the business
Chief executive of the Jacob Fruitfield Food Group, Michael Carey, said he is interested in developing the business

Bachelors and Jacob Fruitfield are reportedly optimistic that a deal can be achieved that would create an Irish food producer with annual revenues of some €300m



20 June 2011

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Merger talks are currently ongoing between Valeo Foods, the owner of Batchelors, and Jacob Fruitfield, the biscuit and jam maker. If successful, the union would create a major Irish food producer with annual revenues of around E300 million and over 500 staff.

None of the companies involved are commenting publicly on a deal which is understood to have been under negotiation for several months. However it is understood that they’re optimistic an agreement can be reached.

London private equity group CapVest, which was co-founded by Irishman Seamus FitzPatrick, created Valeo after engineering the merger of Batchelors and the foods business, Origin Enterprises, in September of last year.

According to a report in the Sunday Business Post, Fitzpatrick described that deal as ‘‘the first stage in a clear strategy to grow Valeo’s footprint in the food sector.’’ He added that the group’s intention was to ‘‘build a market-leading food business’’ through acquisitions and organic growth.

Michael Carey, who bought the Fruitfield business in 2002 and Jacob’s two years ago, has also made it clear he would be interested in doing more deals, stating: ‘‘We are always looking at opportunities to develop the business and seeking out corporate activity.”

If the merger proceeds, the new company would have an extensive portfolio of brands, including Fruitfield jams, Chef sauces, Odlums flours, Jacob’s biscuits, Bachelors beans, Sqeez juices, Roma pasta products and Lustre tinned fruits. In fact, one source described any potential new amalgamated firm to be “a very, very significant player in ambient foods, with leading brands in almost every segment.”

Informed sources have said that a successful deal would likely to be structured as a cash-and-share takeover of Jacob Fruitfield by Valeo, However, Valeo would first have to gain the approval from the Competition Authority, before it could achieve this goal.



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