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NBGI Private Equity backs management buy in of Pasta King

NBGI Private Equity has backed a GBP13m management buy in of Pasta King UK, which provides pasta meals to schools and other sectors.

The business has been acquired from its incumbent management and Matrix Private Equity Partners.

Pasta King, which is based in Newton Abbot, Devon, provides meal solutions comprising mostly pasta with fresh sauces. The meals are served hot from “pasta bars” that are loaned out free-of-charge to the customer base.

Pasta King has become very in secondary schools because it satisfies government standards on salt, fat, fibre and vegetable content that were imposed on all food served in schools from September 2009.

Pasta King also has a growing presence in universities, business and industry, and the leisure sectors. It has recently received approval by the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency for supply into hospitals and other primary healthcare trust establishments.

NBGI is backing Howard Farquhar and Mike Cole as Pasta King’s new managing director and chairman. They have become shareholders in the acquisition vehicle alongside NBGI’s majority equity stake. Farquhar and Cole formed the cornerstone of the management team NBGI backed in 2003 in its investment in Brambles Foods, a sandwich manufacturer.

Richard Morley, director of NBGI, says: “We are delighted to be backing Howard and Mike for the second time on an MBI into the food service sector. They are a very high quality team and I’m confident that they will take the business to new levels by further development of the successful Pasta King model.”

Farquhar adds: “Pasta King has a very strong position in secondary schools. We want to build on that with improved merchandising, marketing and product development not only for further growth in the education sector but also to significantly increase our presence in other markets.”

Richard Babington of NBGI has joined the new board of Pasta King.

Bank debt for the transaction was provided by HSBC Leveraged Finance (South West). Geldards (Nottingham) provided legal advice to the purchaser, with Ernst and Young (Bristol) and CIL (London) undertaking financial and commercial due diligence services respectively.

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