Hain Celestial, the US natural and organic food group, has ceded control of its poultry venture Hain Pure Protein.

The company said last night (6 July) that venture partner Pegasus Capital Advisors had acquired a controlling interest after new shares were issued in the business.

Hain Pure Protein was set up in 2005. Pegasus had owned 49.9%, with Hain Celestial holding 50.1% of the business. After the share issue, Pegasus owns around 51% of the venture, while Hain Celestial holds 49%.

The change of control sees Pegasus co-managing partner Rodney Cohen become chairman of the venture. Jay Lieberman, formerly vice president, financial planning and analysis at Hain Celestial, will be the venture's COO and CFO.

Hain Celestial president and CEO Irwin Simon said growing demand for antibiotic-free poultry meant he remained "excited" about the venture's prospects.

"We look forward to working with our partners at Pegasus on Hain Pure Protein's future continued success," Simon said.

Shares in Hain Celestial closed almost unchanged on the day, up only 0.13% at US$15.66.