Bird & Bird advises on Premier Foods £172 million acquisition of Marlow Foods

17 June 2005

International law firm Bird & Bird, has been advising new client Premier Foods on the intellectual property and regulatory issues relating to their £172 million acquisition of Marlow Foods from Montague Private Equity, the owner of Quorn, the UK's leading meat alternative brand. The value of the intellectual property was essential to the viability of the transaction for Premier Foods as was the regulatory position governing sales of Quorn.

Quorn is protected by trade marks, manufacturing patents and process know-how and is subject to a specific food regulatory regime. A critical aspect of the deal was ensuring that Premier Foods will be able to exploit these intellectual property rights and expand sales of the Quorn product as planned following the acquisition.One of the main challenges involved the special status of the product in the context of the complex regulatory regimes in the UK and other relevant countries in Europe and also in the US.

Partner Nicola Maguire in Bird & Bird’s corporate group co-ordinated the transaction to ensure that the tight deadlines were met. Advice on the intellectual property issues was provided by partners Morag Macdonald and Gerry Kamstra with assistance from associates Mark Hilton, Helen Conlan, Clare Wilson and Charlotte Winton. Regulatory advice was provided by partner Trevor Cook.

Robert Lawson from Premier Foods said:

“We instructed Bird & Bird because the transaction required lawyers with an expert knowledge of intellectual property coupled with a detailed understanding of the very complex regulatory issues in the UK and other relevant countries in Europe as well as in the US”.

Commenting on behalf of the Bird & Bird team, Nicola added:

“Where a company is purchasing a business based on novel technology as in the case of Quorn, the intellectual property rights and regulatory regime can have a critical impact on the viability of the acquisition. Companies in this position are realising increasingly that it is essential to use lawyers with a detailed understanding of regulatory and intellectual property issues to fully understand the implications of the assets that are being purchased.”

For more information on this please contact Nicola Maguire on +44 20 7415 6000. For more information on Bird & Bird please contact Larry Cattle on + 44 (0) 20 7415 6156.