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24 November 2016

Charles Russell Speechlys advises on the merger of Kolak Snack Foods Limited with Europe Snacks

Charles Russell Speechlys has advised the shareholders and members of management on the merger of Kolak Snack Foods with Europe Snacks to create a €250m business employing approximately 1,400 people.

Founded in 1984, Kolak is a British market leader specialising in own label manufacturing in the savoury snacks market.  Kolak operates two production sites close to London and employs over 1,000 people.

The deal involved the disposal of the share capital of Kolak to the French group Europe Snacks, market leaders on the continent in the field of aperitif snacks.  Europe Snacks are backed by Apax Partners and CM-CIC.  Under the deal both Ashok Lakhani (co-founder and former Chairman and CEO) and Rikin Lakhani, Kolak’s managing director, reinvested in the French holding company.  Ashok Lakhani, joins the main group board as a non-executive director, while Bharat Lakhani, co-founder, along with the other existing shareholders step back from the business. Rikin Lakhani and Nicolas Eyméoud remain in their positions as managing directors leading the UK and French businesses respectively.  The UK and French companies will continue to operate under their established brand names.

Commenting on the transaction, Rikin Lakhani said: “I am very excited about the opportunities that this merger presents both nationally and internationally for us and our customers.”

Ashok Lakhani said, “Having established the business more than thirty years ago, the decision to exit was not an easy one.  I and my colleagues are delighted to see the business form part of Europe Snacks, who we know well, with Rikin continuing at the helm of Kolak.  Martin, Richard and his colleagues accompanied us in a way that was consistently commercial and effective, professional and at the same time understanding through the whole process, from negotiation of the term sheets through to completion.  We thoroughly appreciated having them alongside us.”

Martin Wright said “This was a great deal to work on.  The acquisition fitted very well with the Europe Snacks strategy and the relationships are such that we are sure the buyer will work very well with Ashok and Rikin as the combined business develops.  The parties and their professional teams all approached the transaction in a very positive way, not only assisting the process but also establishing a very good basis for the future.  I and my colleagues in London and in Paris were delighted to play our part.”

At Charles Russell Speechlys, Martin Wright and Richard Coleman led the deal, working with Emily Davies and Nathan Lightman from the Corporate team.  Thibaut Caharel led the Paris aspects, working with Quentin Vielcastel and Gaelle Bodet.   Sarah Morley and Cara Imbrailo handled the real estate aspects, Kirsti Laird handled the employment and consultancy aspects and Helen Coward handled the tax.

The Sellers were advised by PwC Corporate Finance (Alex Priestly and Jonty Strachan).

Europe Snacks were advised by Allen & Overy teams in Paris and London led respectively by partners Romy Richter and Gordon Milne.  They were also advised on the debt aspects of the transaction by Jones Day in Paris.

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