Lion Capital Agrees to Buy Picard From BC Partners

Lion Capital LLP, the owner of Weetabix and Kettle Chips, agreed to buy Picard Surgeles from BC Partners Ltd., becoming the French frozen food retailer’s third private-equity owner in 10 years.

The takeover values Picard at about 1.5 billion euros ($1.94 billion) including debt, according to two people with knowledge of the talks, who declined to be identified because the firms haven’t disclosed the terms. Private equity funds Clayton Dubilier & Rice LLC in New York, CVC Capital Partners Ltd., Cinven Ltd. and Paris-based Eurazeo had all considered making offers, people with knowledge of the sale said in June.

Private equity executives are resuming purchases after the credit crisis halted dealmaking. The firms have announced $70.1 billion of takeovers this year, 89 percent more than in the same period in 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Despite a hard consumer environment in 2009, Picard continued to gain market share and has further significant growth opportunities in France and in Europe,” André François-Poncet, managing partner of BC Partners, said in the statement. “We trust that Lion Capital will be a good partner for Picard in the future.”

BC, the London-based manager of a 5.8 billion-euro leveraged buyout fund, bought Picard in 2004 for 1.3 billion euros from Candover Partners Ltd., which had in turn acquired it from French retailer Carrefour SA in 2001. Picard, based in Fontainebleau, has 813 shops in France and makes frozen food under its own brand.

The takeover should be completed in the fourth quarter, subject to approval by European competition authorities, London-based Lion Capital said in an e-mailed statement today.

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