Abu Dhabi-backed Carlyle invests in Irish chocolate maker

Lily O’Brien’s deal marks the first investment by the US firm’s Irish fund
By Shane McGinley
Wed 29 Jan 2014 10:14 AM

The Carlyle Group, the US private equity firm in which Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Company owns a 7.5 percent stake, has invested in iconic Irish chocolate manufacturer Lily O’Brien’s.

The investment was the first by Carlyle Cardinal Ireland (CCI), the Irish private equity fund founded by The Carlyle Group and Cardinal Capital Group.

The level of investment in Lily O’Brien’s, which manufactures premium chocolates and desserts sold in 16 countries, was not disclosed.

Founded in 1992 from her kitchen in Kildare, Irish entrepreneur Mary Ann O’Brien has grown Lily O’Brien’s into a global brand name and employs 260 staff.

The company has driven strong product growth outside of the UK and Ireland, with 2012 sales to Australia increasing by 370 percent between 2011 and 2012, and sales to the US increasing by 100 percent in the same period.

Robert Easton, managing director of CCI said: “Lily O’Brien’s is a great example of an Irish business with a world-class reputation. We are delighted to join the founder and management team to continue to grow the business. Our investment will help Lily O’Brien’s takes their chocolates and desserts to an even wider audience of consumers around the world.”

Founder Mary Ann O’Brien, who will continue to play an active role within the company, added: “The CCI team has a proven track record of working with businesses such as ours and we are excited about what we can achieve in the coming years.”

Private equity firm The Carlyle Group was founded in 1987 and currently has assets totalling around $31.5bn. Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Company bought a 7.5 percent stake in 2007.

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