The UK arm of Findus, the company at the heart of the horsemeat scandal, could be valued at hundreds of millions of pounds if a sale takes place this year, Sky News has reported.
According to the news channel, Findus Group shareholders have begun discussions about a possible sale of the UK business this year, two years after scandal hit the company. However Findus Group told Meatinfo the news was purely speculative.
Findus is owned by three investors – Highbridge Capital, JP Morgan and Lion Capital, which are equal one-third shareholders.
The company has become inextricably linked to the horsemeat scandal after its lasagnes were found to contain up to 100% horsemeat in February 2013, sparking industry-wide authenticity tests on all processed beef products.
Findus’ performance has since recovered and, in August 2013, just months after the scandal, the holding company Findus Pledgeco improved its credit rating from “negative” to “stable”, following the issue of a £410m bond.
A Findus Group spokesperson said: “No sale process is under way for the UK business, or any part of the Findus Group at this time.”
However, in a statement issued to Sky News it went on to acknowledge: “The owners and senior executives of Findus Group keep their long-term options continuously under review.”
Sky News also reported that “banking sources” had said advisers had not yet been appointed to auction the UK division, but they added that such a move was “likely in the coming months”.
By Eleanor Mackay