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Inflexion exits Ilchester Cheese

Inflexion Private Equity, the mid-market private equity investor, today announces the sale of Ilchester Cheese, England’s leading producer and exporter of fine quality speciality cheeses. The sale to Tine BA, the largest Norwegian milk co-operative and the makers of Jarlsberg cheese, for an undisclosed sum. The exit represents a multiple of over 2x for Inflexion’s investors and a mid twenties IRR. Ilchester was acquired by Inflexion in December 2004 and the sale represents Inflexion’s fourth successful exit of the 2003 fund.

Ilchester is the UK market leader having founded the blended cheese market in the early 1960s. Ilchester produces three of the top five brands, being Applewood, Mexicana and Five Counties and enjoys a commanding market share. Throughout Inflexion’s ownership the business has invested heavily in the export market and in new product development, both of which were core to Tine’s acquisition rationale. The company has achieved an 11% CAGR over the investment period.

The sale process was led by Christian Hamilton, Investment Director of Inflexion Private Equity, who commented:

“Ilchester is a very high quality company with a tremendous reputation for quality and innovation in the cheese market. We are very pleased to have backed the management team in successfully growing the company over the period of Inflexion’s ownership, and are confident that the company has a bright and exciting future with Tine.”

Jonathan Smith, Chairman of Ilchester Cheese Company said,

“Inflexion have been good to work with over the past four years. They’ve consistently been ready to invest in developing the business and this has put Ilchester in very good shape for the next phase of its future. On a day to day basis, Inflexion are quick and non-bureaucratic in making decisions – a great bonus when running a fast moving business like Ilchester.”

The shareholders were advised by PWC Corporate Finance in Bristol and London.