Capitalism is back. After a credit crunch-induced hibernation, M&As are again in vogue whether in the classic form of the Cadbury takeover by Kraft, or highly leveraged private equity deals such as the secondary buyout of the Pets at Home retail business last week.

The reappraisal of debt financing so soon after taxpayers recapitalised the banks is a matter of public interest, and many baulk at the idea of debt financing at all. Indeed the capital structures of Man Utd and Liverpool seem to be as hot a discussion point among football fans as John Terry's extra-curricula antics.

And the same misgivings are expressed about business at large - is debt ever good?

The truth is, it all depends on which organisation the debt is backing and whether it allows room for the right decisions, short and long-term. Pets at Home has been a fabulous success under private equity ownership, with terrific organic growth. Birds Eye, my company, is much more effective under private equity than as an irrelevant division of a huge multinational, Unilever. We've been able to restructure, reinvest, turn it around and pay the mortgage. The same goes for Booker and Iceland. Their dramatic transformation would have been far less likely as plcs.

Leveraged buyout is only an issue if the mortgage payments are set too steep in the first place. Otherwise the capital or ownership structure is irrelevant as long as management and owner interests are fully in step which is a lot more difficult in the plc world, where share ownership can change hands rapidly and anonymously.

The re-emergence of debt will be a force for continual change in UK food. Change polarises, but is undoubtedly healthy. Brace yourself for a lot more. And, football fans, ask yourselves this: are Liverpool's problems mainly that of an inappropriate capital structure or has Rafa lost the plot?

Martin Glenn is guest editor and CEO of Birds Eye Iglo Group.

Read our exclusive Q&A with Martin here.

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