3i exits Voyager Foods

The butters and sauces division of Voyager Foods has been sold to the global ingredients and consumer foods company, Kerry Group. The deal provides investors 3i and ECI Ventures with a partial exit from their 1996 investment. The value of the transaction was not disclosed.

3i first invested GBP100,000 in the company in 1988, when it was a start-up called Food for Thought based in West Sussex, England. The firm then went on to back the company in

a GBP1.75 million MBI, which was led by the company’s present managing director, Alan Hawley. This deal was carried out with ECI Ventures and supported with debt provided by the

Bank of Scotland.

Voyager Foods is now based in Sunderland, a move that 3i’s investment helped to finance.

The butters and sauces division is one of the company’s two independent trading divisions.

It manufactures a range of formed, flavoured butters and a variety of savoury sauces

for segments of the prepared foods, food processing and

food service industries.

The other side of the business prepares a wide range of cooked chicken products, both chilled and frozen. This part of the company will be retained by a newco, known as Challenger Foods, made up of existing management and shareholders. 3i and ECI Ventures will continue to hold a stake in this company.

Kerry Group, based in Ireland, announced this acquisition as one of four that make up a development initiative worth EURO94 million. With the acquisition of Golden Vale, and eight bolt-on acquisitions announced earlier this year, the cost of the group’s purchases in 2001 totaled around EURO600 million.