CORRECTED-UK'S R&R Ice Cream buys Australia's Peters for about $416 mln

Tue May 27, 2014 4:00am EDT

(Corrects timing of R&R's sale to PAI in seventh paragraph)

By Byron Kaye

SYDNEY May 27 (Reuters) - The UK's R&R Ice Cream Plc , Europe's second-largest ice cream maker, said on Tuesday it will buy Australian rival Peters Food Group Ltd from its private equity owner in a deal Australian media valued at about A$450 million ($416.21 million).

The sale marks a busy week for Peters's owner, Pacific Equity Partners (PEP), Australia's biggest private equity firm, which sold a 51 percent stake in cleaner-caterer Spotless Group Ltd in a A$1 billion listing four days earlier.

Like it did with Spotless, PEP sold Peters - owner of the Drumstick, Connoisseur, Peters Original and Maxibon brands - two years after buying it, half the typical time for private equity turnarounds.

The sale continues a dramatic consolidation in dairy-related businesses globally. A week ago, China's Bright Food Group Co Ltd bought 56 percent of Israel's largest food company Tnuva in a deal that valued it around $2.5 billion.

Earlier this month, China's Wilmar International and a partner agreed to buy Australia and New Zealand bread and dairy company Goodman Fielder Ltd for A$1.37 billion.

Last year, Canada's Saputo Inc gained control of Australia's Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Company Holdings Ltd for more than A$500 million after a bidding war.

R&R itself was sold a year ago to French private equity firm PAI Partners.

"By combining the two companies, R&R is further establishing its position as a world leader in the ice cream manufacturing market with a unique presence both in the European and Australian markets and significant increased potential for international expansion," R&R and Peters said in a joint statement.

The companies did not disclose a sale price, but local media previously reported PEP was planning to sell Peters in a private sale or via IPO valuing it around A$450 million.

($1 = 1.0812 Australian dollars) (Editing by Matt Driskill)