Lion Capital to Buy Kettle Foods

Published in CSP Daily News

Salty snack maker to be acquired by London investment firm

LONDON -- The shareholders of Kettle Foods, Salem, Ore., and Lion Capital LLP, London, said that an agreement has been reached whereby Lion will acquire Kettle Foods, a U.S. and U.K. natural potato chip company. Lion is acquiring the company in a private transaction which, conditional upon regulatory approval, is expected to close in the next 30 days. No financial details of the transaction were released.

Established in 1978, Kettle Foods is a leading premium salty snack company, the main products of which include Kettle batch-cooked potato chips, and [image-nocss] in the United States, it also produces and sells Kettle-brand Bakes baked potato chips, nuts, nut butters and tortilla products.

The company makes all-natural snacks that are free of artificial flavors, artificial colors, MSG and trans fats, it said.

Kettle Foods has manufacturing facilities in Oregon and Norwich, U.K. In its fiscal year 2006, the company is estimated to generate sales of approximately $150 million.

Kettle Foods founder Cameron Healy said, "We've found an investment partner in Lion Capital that brings deep respect for our brand, confidence in our business plan and the expertise to help deliver on our brand promise to consumers around the globe. Under new ownership, Kettle Foods will continue on the same path, making all-natural snacks with the same care and craft that we've used for nearly 30 years in business. Our fans will see no changes in the products they love; they'll just be able to find us more easily as we continue to broaden our distribution."

The founders will remain with the company for a period of time to ensure a smooth transition to the new owners.

Lyndon Lea, founding Partner of Lion Capital, said, "Kettle Foods has built a beloved consumer brand with significant loyalty and opportunity for growth. As a leader in the premium and natural segments of the snacks market, Kettle is capitalizing on consumers' trend towards 'healthier' eating through product innovation and increased market penetration. We believe there is a compelling opportunity to continue Kettle's strong growth behind these same drivers, while honoring the company's heritage, craft and commitment to great tasting, all-natural snacks."

Lion Capital is a private-equity investment firm focused on the consumer sector. The firm's principals have been investing private-equity capital since the early 1990s and have invested more than 2.7 billion euros ($3.44 billion U.S.) of equity in transactions totaling more than 12 billion euros ($15.28 billion U.S.) in value, they said.