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Ireland's Valeo snacks on Kettle Foods deal

Sky News logo Sky News 12/08/2019 Mark Kleinman, City editor
a stack of flyers on a table: Kettle's business in the UK and Ireland was put up for sale earlier this year © PA Kettle's business in the UK and Ireland was put up for sale earlier this year

An Irish food company which has led a prolific takeover spree during the last decade‎ is closing in on its latest corporate snack: the purchase of brands including Kettle crisps and Metcalfe's Skinny Popcorn.

Sky News has learnt that Valeo Foods Group, which owns brands including Rowse honey and Barratts confectionery, is in advanced talks to buy Kettle Foods' operations in the UK and Ireland.

The deal, which could be struck in the coming days, is expected to be worth more than £50m, although the exact price was unclear on Monday.

City sources said Valeo had been in exclusive talks with Kettle's advisers at Barclays for several weeks.

Valeo is owned by funds managed by Capvest, a private equity firm which has become a serial investor in branded consumer businesses.

© Getty

Sources said that if completed, the Kettle business would form the basis of a new snacking division at Valeo.

Another brand, Yellow Chips, is also part of the Kettle division in the UK.

The Irish-based company, which had a turnover last year of ‎ €870m, has four principal divisions: Ireland, the UK, Europe and confectionery.

The last of those was established with the purchases of Big Bear and Candy Plus in 2017, and strengthened last year with the purchase of Tangerine, which owned sweets brands including Refreshers and Sherbert Fountan.

Kettle's business in the UK and Ireland was put up for sale earlier this year following pressure on its owner, Campbell Soup, from the prominent activist investor Third Point.

Last week, Campbell announced the sale of Tim Tam, a well-known biscuit brand in Australia, to the buyout firm KKR in a deal worth $2.2bn.

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The US-based company has also sold Kelsen, a snack brand, to the Italian food company Ferrero for $300m.

Its prospective deal with Valeo does not include Kettle Foods assets‎ in the US or in other markets outside the UK and Ireland.

Campbell has only owned Kettle since 2018, when it acquired Snyder's-Lance, the brand's parent.

In turn, Kettle had previously been bought from Diamond Foods, another US-based group.

The flurry of takeovers involving well-known food brands underlines the search for products with significant growth potential in a fast-changing environment dominated by consumers' growing desire for healthier products.

In the UK, other upmarket potato crisp brands such as Tyrrell's and Pipers have also changed hands, with new owners Intersnack and PepsiCo respectively acquiring them.

A spokesman for Valeo Foods ‎declined to comment.

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