Plans cooked up for new food giant

Premier Foods productsSome of Britain's best-known food brands, including Bird's custard and Ragu pasta sauce, could reportedly become culinary bedfellows under plans to create a new food giant.

Several private equity firms are looking to purchase two collections of brands from Premier Foods and Symington's and merge them under one banner, the Sunday Times said.
Premier Foods is considering the sale of Robertson's marmalade, Angel Delight, Bird's and Sarson's vinegar, while Symington's is selling Ragu and the rights to Campbell's soups in Britain and Ireland.

Private equity houses, including Permira and PAI Partners, are cooking up a scheme to gather the recognised products under one umbrella.

Premier Foods, Britain's biggest manufacturer, has been forced to sell off brands to raise money to pay off its near £1 billion debts and intends to focus on eight "power brands" including Hovis bread.

Premier racked up its borrowings during a spending spree that included Mr Kipling owner RHM, although it has insisted it is on the mend after recently sealing a £1.4 billion refinancing deal.

Meanwhile, Premier is expected to reveal full details of its executive pay this week, which reportedly include a £400,000 bonus for chief executive Michael Clarke.

Leeds-based Symington's, which has been put up for sale by its shareholders, was founded in 1827 and supplied powdered pea soup to Captain Scott's first Antarctic expedition in 1901.

Symington's purchased several brands in 2007, including Chicken Tonight, after a management buyout in 2007.
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