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Captain Of Birds Eye And Iglo Group To Quit

(c) Sky News 2013

The executive who runs Birds Eye foods, one of Britain's biggest privately-owned consumer goods companies is quitting after six years at the helm, Sky News can reveal.

Martin Glenn, who has charted a course of significant profit growth for Iglo Group, Birds Eye's parent, will leave in the next few months, insiders said on Monday night.

Mr Glenn's departure is a blow to Permira, the private equity firm which owns Iglo and which aborted an auction of the company last year when prospective buyers failed to meet its asking price.

Iglo employs hundreds of people in the UK and owns some of Britain's best-known food products, including Birds Eye fish fingers. It has benefited from an austerity economy across the Continent by virtue of the lower price point of frozen food against chilled and fresh food competitors.

Buoyed by rising profits, Permira paid itself a dividend of several hundred million pounds last year that proved controversial at a time when buyout firms have been attacked for loading the companies they own with mountains of debt.

Permira, which is trying to raise a new buyout fund from investors, was close to selling Iglo to Blackstone (NYSE: BX - news) , another major private equity group.

Had it done so at the price being discussed, Permira would have more than doubled its money during the period of owning the frozen food producer.

Industry analysts said Mr Glenn's successor could come from Reckitt Benckiser (LSE: RB.L - news) , the FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) consumer products group where Iglo's chairman, Erhard Schoewel, spent much of his executive career.

Under Mr Glenn's management, Iglo has grown from a turnover of approximately €1bn in 2006 to about €1.6bn in the last financial year, while profits have almost doubled from €170m to more than €325m during the same period.

His tenure has coincided with less good fortune for Iglo's rivals, with Findus forced to go through a major financial restructuring which saw the value of shareholders' investments massively diluted.

Analysts suggested that Mr Glenn was likely to be in demand from companies in consumer-facing industries given his strong track record of innovation in areas of the food sector challenged by stagnant sales or encroaching regulation.

Prior to joining Iglo, Mr Glenn ran Pepsico (NYSE: PEP - news) in the UK, managing brands including Walker's Crisps and Tropicana fruit juices.

Neither Permira nor Mr Glenn could be reached for comment.