ConAgra to acquire Unilever business unit

by Keith Nunes
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OMAHA — ConAgra Foods, Inc. has entered into an agreement to acquire Unilever’s North American frozen meals business for $265 million. The acquired businesses include the Bertolli’s and P.F. Chang’s brands, and the business unit had annual sales of approximately $300 million in 2011.

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2012.

The agreement also includes a license for the use of the Bertolli brand name on the frozen meals and the transfer of Unilever’s license with P.F. Chang’s for the use of the P.F. Chang’s Home Menu brand.

“Bertolli and P.F. Chang’s multi-serve frozen meals are excellent additions to our portfolio,” said Gary Rodkin, chief executive officer of ConAgra. “We’ll use our extensive frozen food and innovation capabilities to grow these great brands even further. 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.”

The Unilever facility in Owensboro, Ky., that manufactures the Bertolli and P.F. Chang’s frozen meals is not a part of the sale, but manufacturing equipment used to make the products will be relocated from the Unilever facility to a ConAgra Foods facility. Unilever said it will retain the Bertolli trademark and continue to manufacture its existing pasta sauce at the plant in Owensboro.

“Bertolli and P.F. Chang’s frozen meals are two attractive businesses with a focus on quality ingredients and differentiated technology,” said Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever North America. “I am confident they will continue to do well under ConAgra Foods’ management.”

The company’s decision to divest its North American frozen meals business is in line with its global strategy to exit the frozen foods business.

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