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Butterkist goes German with sale to KP Snacks

The Butterkist popcorn brand, whose adverts are familiar to generations of cinema-goers, will this week be added to the same stable of snack brands as Hula Hoops and McCoy’s.

Sky News has learnt that Butterkist is being sold by privately owned Tangerine Confectionery to KP Snacks, Britain’s second-biggest owner of bagged snacks.

The Butterkist brand is familiar to generations of cinema-goers
Image:The Butterkist brand is familiar to generations of cinema-goers

KP, which is part of the German food producer Intersnack Group, is expected to announce the deal on Monday.

The value of the transaction is unlikely to be disclosed but is expected to be in the tens of millions of pounds.

Insiders said that KP, which saw off rival interest from other multinational food companies, had been keen to buy Butterkist to gain exposure to the fast-growing popcorn category.

As part of the deal, Butterkist’s manufacturing site in West Yorkshire will transfer to KP along with nearly 150 employees.

KP Snacks is Britain's second-biggest owner of bagged snacks
Image:KP Snacks is Britain’s second-biggest owner of bagged snacks

The rest of Tangerine, which includes retro sweets like Sherbet Fountain and Fruit Salad, will continue to be owned by the private equity giant Blackstone.

Popcorn brands now market themselves as healthier alternatives to potato crisps, reflecting consumers’ growing appetite for foods containing lower quantities of sugar and salt.

Rising concerns about obesity, particularly in western markets, have also heralded the threat of a clampdown on marketing activity by snacking and confectionery companies.

Propercorn, another popcorn manufacturer, sold a stake last year to investors including JamJar, whose partners include founders of Innocent Drinks, the smoothie producer.

KP, which also owns crisp brands such as Skips, Discos and Wheat Crunchies, has been part of Düsseldorf-based Intersnack since it was sold in a £500m deal in 2012.

In total, KP employs more than 1,600 people in the UK.

Blackstone declined to comment on Sunday, while KP could not be reached for comment.

Tangerine was advised by Stamford Partners, with Houlihan Lokey advising KP Snacks.

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