Brynwood Partners to acquire stake in Back to Nature

by Staff
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GREENWICH, CONN. — Brynwood Partners VI L.P. has entered a definitive agreement to acquire a controlling stake in the Back to Nature brand food business through a joint venture partnership with Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods Inc.

Kraft will hold a minority stake in the business and will have board representation in the joint venture.

“We are excited to announce the Back to Nature transaction and are honored Kraft Foods selected Brynwood VI as its joint venture partner,” said Henk Hartong III, senior managing partner of Brynwood VI. “We look forward to growing the Back to Nature brand and helping it to achieve even greater success in both the natural and mainstream channels through select new product and new category introductions while staying true to the mission of giving people truly flavorful, wholesome foods made with simple ingredients. We are excited to work with Kraft in this unique joint venture between a private equity firm and a consumer products company formed to maximize the value of a smaller brand in its portfolio.”

The transaction is scheduled to close in October, and terms of the deal will not be released.

Vincent Fantegrossi has been named president and chief executive officer of the new company. He was previously president and c.e.o. of Richelieu Foods, Inc.

“This deal has a unique structure where a large consumer company like Kraft Foods has identified a way to partner with a specialist like Brynwood Partners to increase growth of a non-core asset while maintaining a significant financial interest,” Mr. Hartong said. “We think that this is a very forward-looking concept, and we are delighted to be Kraft's partner.”

This transaction represents Brynwood Partners’ third with Kraft.

Brynwood Partners has a strong investment track record in the food space, including an investment in DeMet's Candy Co., a U.S.-based chocolate confectionery company manufacturing and marketing the Turtles, Flipz, Treasures and TrueNorth brands. Brynwood VI also owns the Balance Bar Co., a marketer of energy and nutrition bars, and Pearson Candy Co., a maker of confectionery brands such as Pearson’s Salted Nut Roll, Pearson’s Mint Patties, Pearson’s Nut Goodies and Pearson’s Bun. Additionally, in November 2011, Brynwood VI formed Sun Country Foods, Inc. to acquire the Kretschmer wheat germ brand and manufacturing facility.

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