Nestlé takes over spice start-up Ankerkraut – pissed off fans

The food company takes over the majority of the former startup “Lion’s Den”. However, fans are not enthusiastic about the deal.

The founders of Ankerkraut: Anne and Stefan Lemcke.

The food group Nestlé takes over the Hamburg spice start-up Ankerkraut. This is a majority stake, as the two companies announced on Wednesday. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval by the Cartel Office. Asked by the start-up scene, neither Nestlé nor Ankerkraut wanted to comment on the purchase price.

Ankerkraut was founded in 2013 by Stefan and Anne Lemcke and sells spice blends online and at points of sale. The company rose to prominence through its successful participation in the TV show “Die Höhle der Löwen” in 2016. For the startup, this is the second exit in a short time. A year and a half ago, the French private equity fund EMZ acquired 20% of the shares of Ankerkraut. At that time, a double-digit sum of one million dollars flowed. EMZ has now sold the entire stake to Nestlé. A return (“multiple of money”) of “well above 2.0” has been achieved, as the investor said in a statement on Wednesday.

Investor Frank Thelen, who took a stake in Ankerkraut through the start-up show “Die Höhle der Löwen” in 2016, also sold his shares. Thelen would not comment on the multiple for his company Freigeist Capital when asked. For him, the case should have been worth it.

Three-digit sum of a million probably

It can be heard from the business environment that Ankerkraut now generates an annual turnover of 50 million euros. The multiples that fast-growing food companies appeal to buyers are often four to eight times the turnover.

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It can therefore be assumed that Nestlé paid a three-digit amount for the majority of Ankerkraut. By way of comparison: Ankerkraut’s competitor Just Spices (60 million euros in turnover) sold 85% of its shares to the American group Kraft Heinz in December. A sales multiple of five was considered likely. Arithmetically, this translated into a purchase price of around 300 million euros.

“The spices fly in the trash”

What’s next for Ankerkraut? The startup must remain independent as a brand and a company. “The founders Anne and Stefan Lemcke, as well as the management, will remain on board as relevant shareholders and nothing will change in the operational activity”, the startup announced on Twitter. The congratulations barely read among the more than 1,500 comments on the tweet. Many are embarrassed by the deal with Nestlé. The group is often criticized for environmental crimes. “And so the spices are thrown in with us,” writes one user.

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