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Pershing Square Exiting Nomad Foods Via $470M Offering

September 12, 2017

Pershing Square Capital Management, the hedge fund headed by billionaire investor William Ackman, announced it plans to exit Nomad Foods – the frozen food maker of Bird’s Eye branded foods and Iglo vegetables – through a public offering valued at approximately $470 million.

Launched by Martin E. Franklin and Noam Gottesmanin the UK in 2014, Nomad Foods markets and distributes leading frozen food brands across 17 countries and has the leading market share in Europe’s frozen food market, valued at approximately 25 billion euro.

In April 2015 the company began its transformation into a globally-scaled branded business when it announced its acquisition of Iglo – the brand in holding 30 percent of the European frozen food market at the time – from private equity group Permira in a massive €2.6 billion (US$2.79 billion) deal. At the time, the company stated that the deal was being viewed as an “anchor” investment from which to make additional acquisitions in the category with an eye toward the U.S. market.

This deal was quickly followed by Nomad’s acquisition of the European operations of Findus Group in August 2015 for £500 million (US$750 million) in cash and shares, entering Nomad into an option agreement to buy Findus Sverige AB and its subsidiaries from its backers: Highbridge Principal Strategies, Lion Capital LLP, and Sankaty Advisors.

At the same time, Pershing Square made yet another high-profile deal in the food space, announcing it had taken a $5.5 billion stake in Mondelez International believing that the packaged food giant will be the next big target in a wave of mergers and acquisitions sweeping the food sector. At the time, this investment was one of the largest ever made by an activist investor, with the stake amounting to approximately 7.5 percent of the company, including forward contracts and options.

Behind these deals was Pershing Square as Nomad’s Foods’ largest shareholder. The reasons driving the decision to exit Nomad at this time was not disclosed by the firm which runs $10 billion in assets under management and typically carries between eight and 12 investments at a time – representing significant stakes in a limited number of holdings.

The offering will be for more than 33 million shares, which at a recent closing price of $14.92 (compared to $10.50 per share when Pershing Square bought in two years ago), values the entire offering at approximately $470 million, subject to market conditions. However, Nomad announced that it intended to repurchase $100 million of the shares.

Following the completion of the offering, New York-based Pershing Square will be left holding nine long positions totaling $9.8 billion.

-Lynda Kiernan 

Lynda Kiernan is Editor with GAI Media and daily contributor to GAI News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration, please contact Ms. Kiernan at lkiernan@globalaginvesting.com.

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