Canada's biggest grain handler, Richardson International Ltd, says it has agreed to buy Wesson, a retail brand of canola and vegetable oils, from Conagra Brands Inc.
J.M. Smucker Co, owner of the rival Crisco brand, had originally tried to buy Wesson, only to have the proposal struck down by the US Federal Trade Commission in March on the grounds that it would reduce competition, Reuters reports
The purchase price was not disclosed, but Conagra had agreed to sell Wesson to Smucker for $285 million before that deal collapsed.
Richardson's deal with Conagra, subject to regulatory approval, includes the 280,000 square foot Wesson production facility in Memphis, Tennessee.
Acquiring Wesson, the top-selling U.S. cooking oil brand, adds to Richardson's diversification into food products from bulk grain handling, said Jean-Marc Ruest, the company's senior vice president of corporate affairs.
“The rich history of both our company and the Wesson brand makes this an exciting acquisition for us,” said Curt Vossen, Richardson president and CEO in a statement. “We believe that consumers will continue to seek out high quality foods and aligning with the Wesson brand expands our ability to meet that consumer desire.”
Richardson also owns an oat mill in Nebraska and is interested in further acquisitions to build its U.S. business, Ruest said in an interview.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019. Ruest said Richardson did not expect difficulty obtaining regulatory approval as it currently sells little cooking oil in the United States.