Conagra Reportedly Offered To Buy Pinnacle Foods, But No Deal

June 1, 2017
With complementary products in no-growth categories, economies of scale appear key.

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Conagra Brands, in the midst of a reshuffling of its portfolio, reportedly made a takeover offer for Pinnacle Foods during May, according to Reuters. While neither company confirming the report, CNBC reported in early June the deal was dead, with Pinnacle's expectations far exceeding what Conagra might have been willing to pay.

Initial news of the potential came the same week Conagra revealed the sale of its Wesson oil brand to J.M. Smucker Co.

Sean Connolly, Conagra CEO since 2015, nearly finalized a $4.3 billion acquisition of Pinnacle back in 2014 when he was CEO of Hillshire Brands. But Tyson Foods Inc. made a $7.7 billion offer for Hillshire, which was contingent on terminating Connolly's Pinnacle deal.

Both Conagra and Pinnacle have older, middle-of-the-store brands, most of which are Nos. 2 or 3 in their stagnant categories. Economies of scale appeared to be key.

Last week, Reuters also reported Conagra and Pinnacle are among the companies considering buying Reckitt Benckiser Group's North American food business, primarily the French's brand of mustard, recently ketchup, fried onions, fried jalapenos, BBQ sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Reckitt Benckiser is in the process of a $17.9 billion takeover of Mead Johnson Nutrition Co.

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