Capvest hatches poultry plan in Scandinavia

Irish backers look to feather their nests as private equity player forms regional giant


Irish investors are set to become indirect shareholders in a newly-hatched Scandinavian poultry giant, thanks to Capvest’s latest deal.

London-based Capvest Equity Partners, led by Cavan man Seamus FitzPatrick, which raised €50 million from Irish investors through NCB in 2007, is on the verge of creating Scandinavia’s biggest poultry producer with sales of around €600 million a year.

It has joined with Swedish agri-business group, Lantmannen, to form a joint venture that is buying up a series of poultry producers in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

The acquisitions will be done simultaneously, with Lantmannen selling businesses in Sweden and Denmark to the new venture, and private equity group, Capman, selling it Cardinal Foods in Norway.

“The new company will consist of Kronfågel, SweHatch and Skånefågel in Sweden; Danpo in Denmark and Cardinal Foods in Norway,” according to a statement.

The new entity, which has yet to be named, will be the region’s biggest poultry and eggs producer, with an annual turnover of SEK6 billion Swedish Kroner (€590m).

Capvest will have a controlling interest, 52 per cent, while Lantmannen will own 48 per cent. The multi-faceted merger has to get competition authorities’ approval before it can go ahead.

Capvest specialises in leveraged buyouts of established businesses with strong cash flows. Food is one of its favoured sectors, on the basis that it is “non-discretionary”, which is another way of saying “necessary”, so it is almost certain to generate cash.

It is a shareholder in Irish group Valeo Foods, owner of brands such as Bachelors, Roma and Shamrock, and also in the Mater Private Hospital.

Previous ventures included Swiss-based United Coffee, which it sold last year for €480 million, earning a profit for Irish backers.

On the basis of past performance, those investors are presumably optimistic that this week’s deal will deliver a few golden eggs.