Neil Sutton gives himself advice on how to keep up with M&As

The first three months of the year have been a whirlwind, and this makes it all the more important to prioritise. So I have compiled my own to do list, which should help me to really focus on what is driving takeover activity in the food sector.
* Learn a new language
Learning Icelandic is the way forward. A strong option when looking at recent M&A activity in the food sector. In recent months Labeyrie has been bought by Icelandic seafood exporter SIF Group, Northern Foods has sold its Cavaghan & Gray Seafood business to the Icelandic Group, and Bakkavör Group has successfully acquired Geest. The Icelandic presence has also been major in the retail arena where BFG has been acquired by Baugur - a case of Iceland buying Iceland.
* Chill out more.
The chilled food sector shows no sign of letting up. Perkins Foods sold its chilled convenience meats division, Henderson bought Homann Feinkost in Germany and FAB announced it had acquired the remaining 60% in Pickenpack. The quoted sector has been of interest, too, with Geest and Uniq the subject of interest. Certainly a sector to watch in 2005.
* Brush teeth more regularly
I’m not alone in having a sweet tooth. The confectionery sector remains a hot target. Buoyant deal activity includes the acquisition of Star Food Romania, the sale of Carmina to Chocoal and CSM announcing the sale of its Sugar Confectionery division to CVC. As the debate over public health continues it will be interesting to see how this sector develops.
* Analyse my dreams
All these cheese deals are making me dream. The market has certainly matured in the past quarter with Leche Celta selling Celga to a group of Spanish investors, Italian company Unigrana buying an 88% stake in Parareggio and the UK-based Ilchester Cheese Company being acquired in an MBO. And the McLelland Group was sold to Lactalis in France.
We can see no reason why this trend towards consolidation will not continue. There is still room for more deal activity in the new EU members and the private equity houses still have the food sector in their sights. We should see significant exits from private equity investments later this year.
Neil Sutton is head of consumer products, PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance