Meat-free food manufacturer Quorn has been bought by a Philippine noodle company for £550 million.
Monde Nissin purchased the company, fending off competition that included companies such as chip-maker McCain; Nomad Foods, which owns Birds Eye and Findus; French yoghurt maker Danone and the Irish-based Kerry Group.
Quorn, which is known for selling meat-free versions of mince, nuggets, burgers and sausages, operates in 16 countries and is based in North Yorkshire.
The company's products are made from mycoprotein, which comprises fermented fungus and sugar. It has gained popularity since the horse meat scandal. The "Meat-free Mondays" campaign has also helped the firm's growth.
Quorn had been put up for sale by its British private equity owner Exponent, which has doubled its money on its original £205m investment in the food group.
Exponent brought in corporate finance experts Spayne Lindsay and Houlihan Lokey to help with the sale.
The Telegraph reports that Monde Nissin has bought Quorn as part of its plan to bulk itself up ahead of a stock market listing next year and to tap into the growing enthusiasm for health food. Sources said that the the Makati-based company is valued at around £600 million and it may choose to float in London or New York.
"Quorn represents an important new leg in our offering," said Monde Nissin’s chief executive, Henry Soesanto. "We are excited by the growth potential of the global meat alternatives market, which complements our strategy perfectly," he added.
Quorn Foods has about 620 employees, which are spread across three UK sites and internationally. These include Stokeley in North Yorkshire, Billingham on Teesade and Methwold in Norfolk, Frankfurt in Germany and Chicago in the US.
Commenting on the sale, Quorn's chief executive, Kevin Brennan, said the deal would help the business grow: "We have an ambition to be the world leader in meat alternatives, ultimately creating a $1 billion business. Monde Nissin [...] provides the capability to expand the brand into Asia."
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