Premier Foods sells table sauce unit to Japan’s Mizkan for £93m

British food producer Premier Foods Plc (LON:PFD) said on Tuesday it had reached a conditional agreement to offload its sweet pickles and table sauces operations to Japan’s Mizkan Group Corp for GBP92.5m (USD148.6m/EUR114.7m) in cash, which will be deployed for debt reduction.

Upon finalisation of the transaction, which is seen to occur early next year, following green light from the vendor’s stockholders and approval from its back syndicate, Premier Foods will have raised GBP370m in proceeds from offloads since March 2012. This amount is well over the target of GBP330m by June 2014, agreed upon with its lenders under its new financing arrangements, the British company said.

The business to be shed includes the manufacturing, distribution, sales, marketing and licensing of the Branston brand, a private label operation and the Bury St Edmunds manufacturing site in Suffolk. The product range includes sweet pickle, ketchup, relish, salad cream and mayonnaise.

With the disposal, Premier Foods will be able to concentrate efforts on its grocery business and on building value in the bread line, its CEO, Michael Clarke, said. Upon close of the transaction, the branded sales mix of the grocery operations will represent some 90%.

The Branston brand is a strategic addition to Mizkan’s global range and enhances the group’s position to expand in the UK, Mizkan’s CEO, Kazuhide Matazaemon Nakano VIII, added.

Austrian OMV unit Gas Connect Austria to dispose of grid operation

Austrian gas pipeline operator Gas Connect Austria GmbH, a wholly owned unit of OMV Gas & Power GmbH, has entered into an agreement to sell 45% in its subsidiary AGGM Austrian Gas Grid Management AG.

The interest will be split equally between regional gas distribution companies EVN Netz GmbH, OO Ferngas Netz GmbH and Gasnetz Steiermark GmbH. Gas Connect did not volunteer any details with regard to financial terms or other deal specifics such as timeframe for completion. The transaction needs to be cleared by competition regulators.

As a result of the deal, Gas Connect and AGGM will strengthen their ties with Grid Level 1 distributors and the divestment comes as proof of Gas Connect’s commitment to establish partnerships with industry operators. According to Stefan Wagenhofer, chairman of AGGM’s supervisory board, the new ownership structure will strengthen further AGGM’s long-standing and successful connections with distribution system operators. AGGM looks forward to working alongside its new partners to tackle the challenges created by the new market model, Wagenhofer added.

AGGM was created in 2002, the year in which Austria liberalised its gas market. In 2003, the company was assigned the role of control manager for the Eastern area. At the start of this month, AGGM was put in charge of Austria’s entire distribution network as per the provisions of the new Gas Market Model Ordinance 2012.