US snacks giant Mondelez International has swooped to acquire UK sports-nutrition business Grenade.

Mondelez has acquired a “significant majority interest” in Grenade from UK-based private equity firm Lion Capital.

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The deal, the first acquisition in the UK by Mondelez since it bought chocolate maker Cadbury in 2010, has been valued at around GBP200m (US$277.2m) by UK media outlets, quoting unnamed people close to the deal. This figure has not been confirmed by Mondelez.

Grenade, based in Solihull in the English Midlands, produces a range of products touted as better-for-you, including high-protein, low-sugar bars, shakes and drinks aimed at, but not exclusively for, the physically active.

In announcing the deal, Chicago-based Mondelez said it “enables expansion in broader snacking and fast-growing well-being segments”.

Grenade was founded by married couple Alan and Juliet Barratt in 2010. Lion bought it from fellow private equity firm Grovepoint in 2017 for GBP72m.

The Barratts, who will retain a “minority equity interest” in the business, will continue to run it under the ownership of Mondelez.

Mondelez described Grenade as “one of the category leaders in high-protein bars” and said the UK firm’s Carb Killa line “has been the best-selling product in the segment since 2016 with a growing presence in the UK and availability across other regions including North America and Asia Pacific”.

Dirk Van de Put, chairman and CEO of Mondelez, said: "Grenade's great-tasting, on-trend products are a great platform for Mondelez International in the UK market and beyond,

"This is another exciting opportunity to deliver on our strategy to be a global leader in broader snacking, including in the important area of well-being."

Alan Barratt, co-founder and CEO of Grenade, said: "When Jules and I founded Grenade from our spare bedroom with a budget of US$700, we dreamt of building an iconic brand available globally.

"This partnership with Mondelez International gives us access to enormous resource and capability to help make those aspirations a reality and I couldn't be more excited about our future growth and continued innovation." 

Mondelez said it plans to operate Grenade separately to "nurture its entrepreneurial spirit and maintain the authenticity of the brand, while providing resources, support and international scale to help accelerate growth".

The acquisition follows Mondelez's purchase two years ago of US-based Perfect Snacks, which makes refrigerated protein bars, for $284m.

Lion Capital has been linked with selling its stake in Grenade since late 2019.

Earlier this month, Mondelez entered what it calls the "premium" biscuit and cracker segment in Australia and New Zealand with an agreement to acquire Gourmet Food Holdings.