Deal making in the food industry

Campbell, Hershey acquire salty snack companies

Unilever to sell spreads business

Dole Food on the selling block

In the past week, there has been a flurry of deal making activity among food producers in North America and in Europe.

Campbell Soup Co. and Hershey Co. are investing close to $6 billion to purchase healthy packaged snacks makers, while Unilever has announced it plans to sell its spreads business to US private equity firm KKK for $8.04 billion.

And Greenyard, a Belgium-based producer of fresh, frozen and prepared fruit and vegetables, is in advanced talks to purchase Dole Food Co., according to industry reports.

Campbell plans to acquire Cape Cod chips maker Synder's-Lance Inc. for $4.87 billion. The snacks company owns brands such as Eatsmart veggie snacks.

Hershey plans to spend about $921 million to buy Amplify Snack Brands, which makes SkinnyPop popcorn and Paqui tortilla chips.

According to a Reuters report, combining Campbell and Snyder's-Lance's $2 billion US snack portfolios will cut costs dramatically and add complementary salty snacks to Campbell's lineup of products.

For Hershey, the Amplify acquisition will likely mean faster growth, according to Jonathan Feeney, an analyst with ConsumerEdge Research in the Reuters news story.

In the Unilever deal, the brands to be sold include Becel, Flora, Country Crock and Blue Band. Unilever put the business up for sale in April, following a review of its assets prompted by February’s unsolicited $143 billion takeover attempt by Kraft Heinz.

The deal with Unilever is expected to close mid-2018, subject to regulatory approvals and employee consultations.

Unilever, whose sales unexpectedly slowed in October, said it plans to return the cash to shareholders, unless more value-creating acquisition options arise.

In the Dole Food deal, according to a report by Just Food, Dole Food and Greenyard have not reached a definitive agreement.

"There can be no assurance that these negotiations will culminate in a transaction between the two companies," Greenyard said in a December 19 statement, noting that it had secured financing to complete the transaction, "should a definitive agreement be reached."

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