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Unilever sells frozen meals business to ConAgra
July 30th, 2012
LONDON and OMAHA, Neb. – Unilever has agreed to sell its North America frozen meals business to ConAgra Foods Inc. for $265 million.
The companies said Monday that the cash deal is expected to close in the third quarter.
The Unilever frozen meals business in North America includes a range of premium, multiserve frozen entrees and appetizers under the Bertolli and P.F. Chang's brands.
According to the companies, the agreement includes a license for the use of the Bertolli brand and the transfer of Unilever's license with P.F. Chang's for use of the P.F. Chang's Home Menu name. It doesn't include Unilever's facility in Owensboro, Ky., where the Bertolli and P.F. Chang's frozen meals are currently produced.
Plans call for Unilever to retain the Bertolli trademark and continue its pasta sauce business, with manufacturing operations remaining at its Kentucky facility.
"Bertolli and P.F. Chang's frozen meals are two attractive businesses with a focus on quality ingredients and differentiated technology. I am confident they will continue to do well under ConAgra Foods' management," Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever North America, said in a statement.
Unilever noted that the sale reflects its global strategy to exit the frozen food business. The company previously divested its European frozen food business.
With annual sales of almost $300 million, the Bertolli and P.F. Chang's businesses are leaders in the frozen multiserve meals segment, according to ConAgra.
"Bertolli and P.F. Chang's multiserve frozen meals are excellent additions to our portfolio. We'll use our extensive frozen food and innovation capabilities to grow these great brands even further," stated Gary Rodkin, chief executive officer of ConAgra Foods. "Just as our acquisition earlier this calendar year of Odom's Tennessee Pride extended our reach into frozen breakfasts, the addition of Bertolli and P.F. Chang's brands can bring us new consumers and new eating occasions."
ConAgra said the acquisition presents significant growth opportunities in the frozen food category, since its strong position in the freezer case with brands such as Marie Callender's, Banquet, Healthy Choice and Kid Cuisine will be enhanced by the addition of the Bertolli and P.F. Chang's brands and the Italian and Asian food they bring to the portfolio.