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Matrix sells Pasta King for GBP13m

Matrix Private Equity Partners, the small buyout specialist, has sold its investment in Pasta King, a provider of pasta-based quick service meal alternatives.

Pasta King has been sold to a management buy in team funded by NBGI Private Equity for GBP13m. 

The GBP5.7m proceeds for Matrix VCT shareholders represent a return of 3.2 times money on the original investment of GBP1.8m and an IRR of 47 per cent for Matrix clients.

This is the second successful exit for Matrix in the last three months following the recent sale of Tottel Publishing to Bloomsbury Publishing for GBP10m, which represented a return of four times money for Matrix. It is also the eighth successful cash exit for Matrix in the last two and a half years.

Matrix originally acquired Pasta King in 2006, following an MBO led by two of Pasta King’s long standing board directors, chief executive Sue Davenport and operations director Paul Haigney.

Pasta King employs 71 staff and has an annual turnover of GBP12m. Since Matrix’s investment, turnover has doubled and staff numbers have increased by over 50 per cent.

Bob Henry (pictured), a partner at Matrix who handled the MBO and was on the board of Pasta King, says: “We anticipated that the Jamie Oliver effect would benefit Pasta King by encouraging caterers to look for quality, healthy eating solutions for high-volume establishments. Sue Davenport has been central in driving business development into new sectors by implementing a strategic sales and marketing plan that helped reposition the company to caterers as a credible and key player in the healthy meals market. It has been particularly rewarding to back a successful chief executive and company at the heart of providing healthier meal alternatives for the nation’s children.”

Davenport adds: “We have a talented team of creative, driven individuals with a real passion for the company, the products and the market. We have enjoyed a period of considerable success which is a great credit to my team and all our employees.  Matrix and its operating partner Ashley Levinson, who is the chairman of Pasta King, have been supportive partners to the business and played an important role in its growth. With this firmly established base we are now in a strong position for further significant growth under NBGI PE’s ownership.”

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