On the Street -- Pinnacle for Birds Eye

November 19/Mt. Lakes, N.J./Business Wire -- Pinnacle Foods Group LLC signed a definitive agreement to acquire Birds Eye Foods Inc. from a holding company controlled by Vestar Capital Partners, Pro-Fac Cooperative, and Birds Eye management in a transaction valued at $1.3 billion. Birds Eye Foods has more than $930 million of total sales and a number of consumer brands in frozen vegetables and meals, including Birds Eye, Birds Eye Steamfresh and Birds Eye Voila!, as well as shelf-stable brands including Comstock and Wilderness pie fillings and toppings, Nalley and Brooks chili and chili ingredients, and snacks from Tim's Cascade Snacks, Snyder of Berlin and Husman.

Pinnacle Foods, owned by private equity funds controlled by The Blackstone Group, manufactures and distributes branded packaged foods that can be found in 80% of U.S. households.

"We are excited about bringing Birds Eye Foods into the Pinnacle Foods family of brands. The Birds Eye brand has $640 million in net sales in the U.S. and strong health and nutrition credentials, along with proven extendibility into new segments and occasions. The transaction provides meaningful opportunities to create value and strengthens our financial position," said Pinnacle Foods CEO Bob Gamgort. "This compelling combination creates a leader in both the frozen and shelf stable business segments and enables us to better serve our consumers and customers."

"We are excited to support Bob Gamgort and the Pinnacle Foods management team in expanding the business through this acquisition. Birds Eye adds another market-leading brand to the Pinnacle Foods platform and creates an attractive, diversified food company with significant scale," said Prakash Melwani, senior managing director of The Blackstone Group. "We look forward to continuing our support of Pinnacle Foods as it grows organically and via acquisitions."

"Birds Eye Foods has been a highly successful investment for Vestar Capital Partners and its investors. The company has grown significantly in the past few years, and today, Birds Eye Foods is an exciting business with innovative products and tremendous potential," said Brian K. Ratzan, managing director, Vestar Capital Partners. "Pinnacle Foods is a great place for the Birds Eye Brand. It will have the resources of a larger food company platform as it expands its leadership position."

Pinnacle Foods expects to fund the transaction using a combination of new debt financing at the company and a significant new equity contribution from Blackstone. The transaction will reduce leverage multiples at Pinnacle Foods. The closing of the transaction, which is expected to occur no later than the first quarter of 2010, is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory approvals.

From the December 7, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition