Thai firm interested in Birds Eye

Birds EyeThe maker of Birds Eye fish fingers has followed Weetabix as the latest household British brand to attract takeover interest from Asia.

Thai food manufacturer Charoen Pokphand Foods (CP Foods) is reportedly preparing a £2.5 billion bid for the Birds Eye business, which has been put up for sale by the private equity firm Permira.
Earlier this month, British cereal favourite Weetabix fell into the hands of China's Bright Food in a deal valuing the firm at £1.2 billion.

According to the Sunday Times, the Thai firm is up against private equity investors including Blackstone and BC Partners after first-round bids in the sale process were lodged on Friday.

CP Foods, which is Thailand's biggest food producer with annual sales of about £6 billion, already has sizeable operations in Britain. Its main office is near Kidderminster and it has a factory at Newmarket, where it makes own-label food for supermarkets including Tesco.

It is thought that CP is keen to expand Birds Eye in Asia and eastern Europe, where the frozen food market is smaller.

Feltham-based Iglo Group, which owns the Birds Eye brand, sold 2.2 billion fish fingers and generated £1.25 billion in sales last year, including from other ranges such as frozen vegetables and chicken and rice dishes.

The report said CP may team up with another private equity firm in order to make an offer for all of Birds Eye.

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