September 30, 2015 / 4:45 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Monde Nissin to buy meat substitute firm Quorn from Exponent for $831 mln

(Adds detail, background)

LONDON, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Meat substitute company Quorn Foods is to be sold to Philippine consumer goods firm Monde Nissin for 550 million pounds ($831 mln), its owners said on Wednesday.

Quorn, which had sales of 150.3 million pounds in 2014, is backed by UK-based investment firms Exponent Private Equity and Intermediate Capital Group.

Reuters had previously reported that Monde Nissin was among the parties to have shown interest in the company.

The sale pre-empts the auction process for the business, which only kicked off earlier this month. It attracted interest from French yogurt company Danone and Canadian French fries producer McCain, a source earlier told Reuters, as well as Ireland’s Kerry Group.

Quorn is a meat substitute made from protein derived from fungus, aiming to build on the consumer trend for eating healthier food and less meat. It is sold on its own, in ready-meals or in products that replicate burgers, sausages or even bacon.

Quorn Foods claims that in the past five years it has cut 60 billion calories from consumers’ diets.

For Monde Nissin the purchase of Quorn is its latest foray into the health food market.

Asian buyers are increasingly investing in consumer-facing businesses in Europe. Last year Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital bought Britain’s Pizza Express chain for around 900 million pounds.

$1 = 0.6617 pounds Reporting By Freya Berry; Editing by Kirstin Ridley and Susan Fenton

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