Smucker to Acquire Big Heart Pet Brands

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Feb 04, 2015

J. M. Smucker Co. on Feb. 3 unveiled an agreement to acquire Big Heart Pet Brands -- the former Del Monte unit that includes Gravy Train and Meow Mix -- in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $5.8 billion. Big Heart has sales of $2.3 billion.

Smucker called Big Heart Pet Brands "the largest stand-alone producer, distributor and marketer of premium-quality, branded pet food and pet snacks in the United States." Its other brands include Milk-Bone, Kibbles 'n Bits, 9Lives, Natural Balance, Pup-Peroni, Nature's Recipe, Canine Carry Outs, and Milo's Kitchen.

Smucker estimated Big Heart earning before taxes, etc., will be approximately $450 million for the fiscal year ending May 3. David West, current president/CEO, will join Smucker to continue to run the pet food business.

The San Francisco-based company has nearly 2,500 employees, five manufacturing facilities, all in the U.S., and several other leased or owned offices. It's owned by a consortium of investors led by funds affiliated with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Vestar Capital Partners, Centerview Capital and AlpInvest Partners Inc.

The company changed its name from Del Monte Corp. to Big Heart Pet Brands following the sale of its fruit, vegetable and other consumer foods portfolio on Feb. 18, 2014.

"Acquiring Big Heart Pet Brands will provide [Smucker] with an immediate and significant presence in the $21 billion pet food and snacks category, one of the largest and fastest growing center-of-the-store categories in the United States," said a Smucker statement.

"The pet food business will become a third platform for growth for our company, along with our existing food and beverage businesses," said CEO Richard Smucker. "This combination further advances our strategy of owning leading food brands in attractive center-of-the-store categories."

Smucker will issue approximately 17.9 million shares of its common stock to the shareholders of Big Heart Pet Brands, pay $1.3 billion in cash and assume approximately $2.6 billion of Big Heart debt.

The transaction includes leased corporate facilities in San Francisco and Burbank, Calif., and in Pittsburgh; owned or leased manufacturing facilities in Decatur, Ala.; Topeka, Kan.; Lawrence, Kan.; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Bloomsburg, Pa.; and several research and development facilities, sales offices, and distribution centers.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of Smucker's current fiscal year, which ends on April 30.

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