Apax’s Energy Snacks takes bite of UK market; Antitrust investigations ‘getting longer’

Energy Snacks, an Apax portfolio company, has announced the acquisition of Burts Snacks.

Good morning Eurohubsters, Craig McGlashan here with the Dealflow.

As a starter today, we have another food-related deal to follow yesterday’s piece on Advent’s IRCA. This time, Apax Partners portfolio company Energy Snacks has grown its presence in the UK. As a main course, we have a meaty take on the problems of antitrust investigations in European dealmaking, before finishing the meal with an exit by DBAG. Oh, and as an apéritif we have a couple of hires to report.

Food’s up. Yesterday we featured Nina Lindholm’s deep dive into Advent International portfolio company IRCA, a producer of speciality ingredients for artisanal pastries, cakes and gelatos, making a move for Kerry Group’s Sweet Ingredients Portfolio.

We must have made the team over at Apax Partners hungry, as its portfolio firm Energy Snacks has announced the acquisition of Burts Snacks.

Energy is buying 100 percent of Burts, with the deal expected to close in March.

The move is an effort to boost Energy’s presence in the UK, which began with its gobbling up of Kolak Snack Foods in 2016.

“Since our initial investment in Europe Snacks, we have continuously supported the company and its management team to position itself at the forefront of innovation and scale its business, notably in the UK with the transformational acquisition of Kolak in 2016,” said Bruno Candelier, partner at Apax, in a statement. “The acquisition of Burts is fully in line with the roadmap set when we originally invested.”

Europe Snacks was founded in France in 1990 and is a producer of savoury snacks for third party brands. As well as buying Kolak, in 2018 it made a push into the Spanish market by acquiring Grupo Ibersnacks.

Burts was founded in the UK in 1995 and is especially strong in the hand-cooked crisps segment, according to a statement. It will continue to operate from its facilities in Plymouth and Leicester, led by managing director Dave McNulty.

Timing. Things have been a bit quiet on the bidding battle between Bain Capital and Triton Partners for Finnish construction firm Caverion since Triton said in late January that it would revise its tender offer timetable.

Caverion’s share price has been hovering around €8.50 in the meantime, in line with one leg of Bain’s revised, two-pronged offer from 25 January. See here for details on that, but effectively Bain is offering shareholders €8 per share now, or €8.50 nine months after the competition of the tender offer. Triton’s offer is €8 per share.

But Bain and the Caverion board have said that Triton’s offer would likely get held up in merger control analysis due to its ownership of Swedish firm Assemblin.

Several sources have told me they expect to see more private equity deals get held up by competition investigations. One reader, an experienced antitrust lawyer, got in touch to talk about whether such investigations were likely to speed up.

That the investigations are increasing in length “is not a question of backlog”, he told me. “It’s the time taken in pre-notification. That’s been getting longer steadily.” The pre-notification process involves reviewing documentation and the economics involved.

In situations with rival bidders, there is another possible delay, as the European Commission may avoid starting pre-notification. “They don’t like to waste time on deals that won’t happen,” said the lawyer.

I’d love to get your thoughts on how antitrust concerns are likely to develop in European dealmaking in the coming months and years ahead. Send them over to me at craig.m@pei.group

Tuning out. Exit news now, and Deutsche Beteiligungs (DBAG) is selling its stake in BTV Multimedia to ETC Group.

BTV Multimedia is a group of trading and service companies that develop and distribute components for the construction of cable and fibre-optic networks. The firm is headquartered in Hanover, Germany.

The total investment in BTV Multimedia was €25.5 million, which includes DBAG’s share of €10.5 million. DBAG realised around three times the capital invested.

ETC is a provider of passive and active telecommunications equipment. The firm is backed by private equity firm Cinven, which acquired a majority stake in the firm in October 2022.

Read more on the deal here.

Partnering up. We’ve had plenty of people moves to report of late – check here for all the coverage – and we have a couple more to add this morning.

London-based buyout firm Sullivan Street Partners has hired Zeina Bain as managing partner. Bain joins from Intermediate Capital Group where she was managing director for three years, in charge of structured partnership investments in the UK, Benelux and the Nordics. She also spent 18 years at Carlyle, most recently as managing director in European buyout.

Sullivan Street focuses on complex situations in the UK lower mid-market. Co-founders Layton Tamberlin and Richard Sanders are the other managing partners at the firm.

Meanwhile, Stockholm-headquartered private equity firm Summa Equity has appointed Stephanie Caspar as partner.

Caspar, who was previously divisional president and executive board member at Axel Springer, will assist portfolio companies with strategy and planning as well as M&A and operations.

Read more on the appointment here.

That’s it from me. Nina will be with you tomorrow to take you through to the weekend as usual.

See you Monday,