Treehouse Buys ConAgra’s Private Brands business for $2.7 B

Treehouse

Ending months of industry speculation private brand manufacturer TreeHouse Foods announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire ConAgra Foods’ private brands operations. Annual sales of the combined entity will be nearly $7 billion. The transaction is valued at $2.7 billion, and closing is anticipated in the first quarter of 2016. The deal comes nearly three years after the disastrous $5 billion acquisition of Ralcorp by Conagra.

The acquisition of ConAgra’s private brands operations will meaningfully expand TreeHouse’s presence in private label dry and refrigerated grocery.  The private brands operations had sales of approximately $3.6 billion for the twelve months ended May 31, 2015.  Following the acquisition, TreeHouse will have pro forma sales of nearly $7 billion and adjusted EBITDA of approximately $690 million. Upon closing, TreeHouse will have more than 50 manufacturing facilities and over 16,000 employees.

“Since our founding ten years ago, our strategy has been to drive shareholder value by consolidating supply of private label brands. We offer our customers value without compromise through economies of scale, quality products and superior customer service,” said Sam K. Reed, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TreeHouse Foods.

“The union of TreeHouse and ConAgra’s private brands business establishes an industry leader in customer brands and custom products with significant scale, scope and skill and enables us to extend our reach in the grocery store by over 10 shelf stable and refrigerated food categories.  Importantly, the combination will also strengthen our ability to support our customers’ efforts to build their corporate brands and offer consumers the best combination of choice and value,” Mr. Reed continued.

The Boards of Directors of both companies have approved the transaction, which is subject to the expiration or termination of applicable waiting periods under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, the Competition Act (Canada) and other customary closing conditions.

FINANCIAL TERMS

The purchase price of $2.7 billion is expected to be funded by a combination of $1.8 billion in new debt issuance and approximately $1.0 billion in equity stock issuance.  TreeHouse has entered into a committed financing arrangement with its lenders, comprised of a combination of Secured Term Loan A, Secured Term Loan B and Unsecured Bridge facilities.  In conjunction with the committed financing, the Company will amend its existing $1.4 billion credit facility to allow for the acquisition and the associated debt incurrence.  No additional changes in borrowing costs or other terms are anticipated.

Both the financing and the acquisition are expected to close in the first quarter of 2016.  TreeHouse Foods expects to incur approximately $100 million in costs associated with transaction fees and issuance costs.

TreeHouse expects the transaction to be dilutive by $0.20-$0.35 in adjusted earnings per share in year one, to contribute $0.55-$0.70 in year two and to be accretive by $1.50-$1.65 in year three. Investments to deconsolidate and integrate the private brands business, combined with the financing costs for the transaction, will exceed contributions from the private brands business in year one.  In years two and three, synergies will ramp up significantly, while costs to integrate the business will wind down.  Synergies will largely be driven by procurement and supply chain optimization.

Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC and BofA Merrill Lynch are acting as financial advisors to TreeHouse Foods on the transaction and Winston & Strawn LLP is serving as legal counsel to the Company.

TreeHouse today also previewed its third quarter results and pre-announced sales of $799 million, which compares to sales of $796 million in the third quarter of 2014.  The Company expects to report earnings per fully diluted share of $0.64-$0.65 compared to $0.47 per fully diluted share reported for the third quarter of last year.

On an adjusted basis, earnings per share in the third quarter are expected to total $0.85-$0.86 compared to $0.89 in the prior year.  Positive tax adjustments are expected to contribute approximately $0.05 of earnings in the quarter.

Additionally, the Company reaffirmed its guidance for the full year 2015 of $3.00-$3.15 in adjusted earnings per share.  Further detail on the third quarter results will be provided as scheduled on Thursday, November 5, 2015.



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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.