Cracker Selection

Valeo already own the Jacob’s brand in Ireland

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Deal-hungry Valeo Foods could be close to complete a buyout of Jacob’s UK arm.

The Grocer understands that Valeo, which already owns the Jacob’s brand in Ireland, has entered exclusive talks to acquire the crackers maker UK unit from United Biscuits’ owner Pladis.

According to a City source, discussions have gone on “for a while” so it is possible that a deal could be completed “imminently”.

However, the source added the deal remained “very complex” given the “mixture of brands and production and the carve-out from the rest of the UB/Pladis portfolio”.

Pladis’ owner, Turkish food conglomerate Yildiz Holding, appointed advisors at investment firm Oppenheimer last year to explore a sale of the 167-year-old cream cracker manufacturer.

Back then Mondelez, Burton’s Biscuit Co and PepsiCo were linked to the £100m auction, but City sources suggested Valeo’s existing knowledge of the brand always made it a likely destination. 

The Capvest-owned Irish business as made a name for itself in recent years, by leading a string of takeovers, including the £67m acquisition of 2 Sisters’ Matthew Walker Christmas puddings business announced this week.

The latest deal is one of 14 completed by Valeo over the past nine years, including the buyout of struggling premium crisps maker Kettle Foods’ operations in the UK and Ireland and confectionery businesses Tangerine and Big Bear.

Meanwhile, the business has, this week, sold Welsh decorations and toppings firm Nimbus Foods to Meadow Foods for an undisclosed amount.

Valeo and Oppenheimer refused to comment. Pladis said it does not comment on “speculation”.

Morning update

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced it is considering whether the takeover by Slug and Lettuce-owner Stonegate Pub Co of rival Ei Group (EIG) has resulted in a lessening of competition. 

The regulator has invited comments from any interested party to assist with its assessment. 

Supermarket Income Reit (SUPR) has bought a Sainsbury’s in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, for £60.4m.

Originally developed in the 1980s, the supermarket comprises 62,000 square feet net sales area with a 12-pump petrol filling station and over 390 parking spaces.

Meanwhile, in this week’s issue of The Grocer read about United Biscuits’ stuggles, with revenues falling 5.4% last year, cold brew company Minor Figures receiving a  £7.5m private investment to fund a push into the US market and nootropics startup Vite raising £175k to launch a ‘first-of-its-kind’ nootropic snack bar. 

Check out for all the details.

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 has opened the session in the red, down 0.6% 7,146.3pts.

Supermarkets dominated the early risers with Marks & Spencer (MKS) up 1.8% at 169.7p, Tesco (TSCO) up 0.6% at 228.7p, Morrisons (MRW) up 0.4% at 195.80 and Sainsbury’s (SBRY) up 0.2% at 206.10.

Among the fallers, McColl’s (MCLS) was down 2% at 47.3p, Diageo (DGE) down 1.7% at 3,266.5p and Unilever (ULVR) down 1.6% at 4,705p.

Yesterday in the City

London’s blue-chip index closed marginally higher on Thursday, ending the day up 0.3% at 7,186.36pts as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar said they could see a “pathway to a deal” on Brexit after crunch talks held earlier in the day.

The news seemed to reassure investors after discussions between the UK and the EU had come to a standstill earlier this week. 

Among the risers, Imperial Brands (IMB) closed up 1.6% at 1,881.2p, Sainsbury’s (SBRY) rose 1.5% to 205.4p and Marks & Spencer (MKS) ended the day 1.4% higher at 166.2p.

Ending the day in the red, Just Eat (JE) shares fell 1.6% to 621.4p, Greggs (GRG) closed 2.7% lower at 1,748p and C&C Group fell 2.4% to 367p.