Associated british foods

Weil Gotshal & Manges has done well out of its long association with Hicks Muse Tate & Furst. Its relationship with the US private equity house has yielded two high-profile deals in the past 18 months, namely its multi-million pound takeover of Hillsdown Holdings and the mammoth United Biscuits deal. The ABF deal is somewhat smaller than the previous two but was debt free, since on completion of the deal, the debt finance provided by Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette and Deutsche Bank was simultaneously repaid. The newco Eubisco will retain some links with its former parent ABF as the deal included putting in place supply agreements of jam, sugar and flour to the former Burton’s Biscuits.

Hicks Muse’s purchase strengthens its position in the sweet foods sector – its acquisition of Hillsdown included Horizon, the company’s biscuit subsidiary which will create the second largest in this area, with a 20 per cent UK market share.

It is understood that Duke Street Capital, a client of Clifford Chance and Slaughter and May, is also believed to have shown interest in Burton’s Biscuits, but was ultimately outbid by its rival.