The owner of Young’s Seafood is charting a course towards the London stock market that will provide a fresh test of the appetite among City institutions for private equity-controlled assets.
Sky News has learnt that Eight Fifty Food Group, which owns Young’s and the giant pork processing business Karro, is in talks with investment bankers about starting preparations for an initial public offering (IPO).
If it goes ahead, a float is expected to take place next year at the earliest, although people close to the situation cautioned that there was no definitive timetable for a process.
Eight Fifty, which takes its name from the fact that there are roughly 850 acres in a nautical square mile, denoting “the unity of land and sea”, is owned by the private equity firm CapVest.
The group has annual sales of approximately £1.4bn, and employs more than 7,500 people across 19 sites in the UK and Ireland.
It was unclear on Thursday whether CapVest might also seek to gauge the interest of potential buyers of the company, alongside the preparations for a stock market listing.
The buyout firm owns a number of other food assets, including brands such as Rowse honey, which is part of CapVest’s Valeo business.
An Eight Fifty Food Group spokesperson declined to comment specifically on the subject of a potential IPO, saying: “As a major food group made up of Karro Food Limited and Young’s Seafood we continue to focus on providing great food to customers across pork and seafood.
“We are excited about the ongoing opportunity to create an ambitious multi-protein food business of considerable scale with a combined platform in two important protein categories that are experiencing consistent long-term growth.”
CapVest declined to comment.