NBGI takes a bite of Pasta King

UK-based private equity firm NBGI Private Equity has acquired Pasta King, a provider of pasta meals for schools from its incumbent management and Matrix Private Equity Partners. NBGIPE provided £13m for the buy-in.

The deal earned Matrix VCT £5.7m, meaning a 3.2x return for shareholders from an original investment of £1.8m and an IRR of 47% for MPEP clients.

Matrix originally acquired Pasta King in 2006, following an MBO led by two of Pasta King’s longstanding board directors, CEO Sue Davenport and Operations Director Paul Haigney.

Bob Henry, the partner at Matrix who handled the MBO and was on the board of Pasta King said: “We anticipated that the Jamie Oliver effect would benefit Pasta King by encouraging caterers to look for quality, healthy eating solutions for high-volume establishments. Sue Davenport has been central in driving business development into new sectors by implementing a strategic sales and marketing plan that helped reposition the company to caterers as a credible and key player in the healthy meals market.”

Based in Devon, Pasta King provides pasta meals to schools and is currently expanding into universities, business and industry and leisure sectors. It also recently received approval from the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency, allowing it to cater to hospitals and healthcare establishments.

As part of the transaction, NBGIPE is backing Howard Farquhar and Mike Cole as Pasta King’s new managing director and chairman respectively. Richard Babington of NBGIPE will also join Farquhar and Cole on the new board of Pasta King.