Senior directors at Symington’s have snapped up a majority stake in the UK food group in a private-equity backed management buy-out.

In a deal announced today (1 June), management will own 50.1% of Symington’s, which owns brands including Ragu and Chicken Tonight.

Investment fund Intermediate Capital Group, which helped finance the takeover, will hold the remaining 49.9% of the business, in which private-equity fund Bridgepoint was the previous investor. Financial details were not disclosed.

Rumours that ICG could buy a stake in Symington’s had emerged this week although only yesterday the fund declined to comment on whether a deal was in the offing.

“These are tough but exciting times for the grocery market, and we want be sure that Symington’s continues to play a leading role through category and product innovation and continued investment in its product and retailer brand plans,” Symington’s CEO David Salkeld said. “We are delighted to partner with ICG, who took a different approach and have provided us with a unique financing structure which will give us a strong platform for future growth and expansion.”

ICG investment director Gareth Knight added: “Symington’s is highly regarded in the grocery market for good reason, and we are backing a very exciting business plan.”

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Bridgepoint, which also counts UK sandwich retailer Pret a Manger and French fast food chain Mezzo di Pasta among its assets, pointed to Symington’s recent record.

“Symington’s grew substantially during our period of investment, having made a number of strategic acquisitions and concluded an important partnership with Campbell’s. It is now well placed to continue growing with a new investment partner,” Bridgepoint director Mark Stroud said.

Symington’s portfolio also includes soups it produces for Campbell Soup Co. in the UK and Aunt Bessie’s products it makes for privately-owned UK firm William Jackson Food Group. 

Talk of a deal with ICG was the latest speculation surrounding Symington’s in recent weeks.

In April, reports in the UK suggested competing private-equity firms were vying to acquire the non-core brands of UK food manufacturer Premier Foods plc and Symington’s, with an eye to merging the groups into one entity.

According to a report in The Sunday Times, PAI Partners and Permira are both considering a plan to merge Premier Foods’ unwanted food brands with Symington’s. 

However, a report in The Yorkshire Post also suggested that Symington’s current owners could be looking to raise capital in order to acquire Premier’s brands.