Post to acquire some Hearthside Food assets

by Eric Schroeder
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ST. LOUIS — Post Holdings, Inc., a manufacturer, marketer and distributor of branded ready-to-eat cereals, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the branded and private label cereal, granola and snacks business of Hearthside Food Solutions, a portfolio company of Wind Point Partners, for $158 million. The transaction does not include Hearthside’s bars, cookies or crackers businesses.

The acquisition will net Post the Golden Temple, Peace Cereal, Sweet Home Farm and Willamette Valley Granola Co. brands of Hearthside Food, as well as the company’s private label granola business. Both the private label and the acquired brands are sold predominantly through the natural and health channels.

In addition, Post would get access to a 135,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, capable of producing a variety of product and package formats, and a 30,000-square-foot finished goods warehouse. Both facilities will be leased by Post and are in Eugene, Ore., where the business will continue to be based.

“This transaction expands Post’s participation in the high-growth segments of the cereal category, and we are excited about the expanded footprint it provides us,” said Bill Stiritz, chairman and chief executive officer of Post. “This acquisition will provide us with expanded presence with new retail partners and will be accretive to both top-line growth and earnings.”

Post said it plans to combine the acquired Hearthside businesses with its Attune Foods business, a branded R.-T.-E. cereal business Post acquired in December 2012. Founded in 2006, San Francisco-based Attune Foods makes Uncle Sam high fiber cereals, Erewhon gluten-free cereals, Erewhon organic graham crackers and Attune chocolate probiotic bars.

In addition to Hearthside’s Eugene presence, the newly combined Attune business will have offices in Phoenix and San Francisco. The expanded Attune Foods will continue to be managed independently and will report to Terence E. Block, president and chief operating officer of Post Holdings, Inc.

Post expects to complete the all-cash transaction of the Hearthside businesses by June, subject to certain limited closing conditions, including the expiration of waiting periods required under antitrust laws and the receipt of necessary third party consents. On a full year basis, the transaction is expected to contribute approximately $70 million to net sales and approximately $17 million to $19 million to EBITDA, inclusive of expected annualized synergies. Post said the transaction is structured as an asset purchase with Post benefiting from the “step-up” in the tax basis of the acquired assets and the resulting tax deduction.  Management estimates the cash tax benefit of the step-up to have a net present value of approximately $25 million to $30 million.
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