Managers pay pounds 55m for Golden Wonder

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The Independent Online

Golden Wonder, one of the UK's best-known brands of crisps, has been sold to its management for pounds 54.6m. The deal includes the Wotsits, Nik Naks and Wheat Crunchies brands as well as those sold under supermarket own labels.

The buyout of the Golden Wonder snacks business is being backed by Legal & General Ventures and led by Clive Sharpe, formerly a director of Golden Wonder and chief executive of Homepride Foods.

Once a powerful force in the snacks business, Golden Wonder has been struggling in the so-called "crisp wars" where Walkers, part of PepsiCo and KP, owned by the beleaguered United Biscuits group, are the dominant players. The increasing buying power of the supermarket groups whose own- label crisps have been taking share has added to the squeeze.

The industry has been plagued by over-capacity and a price war that saw the price of a supermarket six-pack of crisps fall to just 29p at one stage last year. Golden Wonder made profits of pounds 9m on sales of pounds 150m in the year to June and had net assets of pounds 72m.

The sale completes Dalgety's disposal of its consumer businesses, which were put on the block in February. This followed the company's pounds 700m acquisition of the European pet food businesses of Quaker Foods. Dalgety has raised pounds 293m from the disposal programme. It had already sold Homepride sauces for pounds 58m and the Pot Noodles hot snacks business for pounds 180m.

Dalgety shares rose 5p to 422p.