Private equity firm to buy Campbell E.U. simple meals business

by Eric Schroeder
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CAMDEN, N.J. — London-based private equity firm CVC Capital Partners (CVC) has agreed to acquire the European simple meals business of Campbell Soup Co. for €400 million ($542 million).

Campbell and CVC have been in exclusive negotiations for the business since mid-August. Under terms of the agreement, CVC will acquire Campbell’s national brands of soups, sauces and simple meals, including Liebig and Royco in France, Erasco in Germany, Blå Band in Sweden and Devos Lemmens and Royco in Belgium. The transaction also includes four plants in Puurs, Belgium; Le Pontet, France; Lubeck, Germany; and Karpalund, Sweden. In fiscal 2013, the Campbell businesses included in the proposed transaction generated annual net sales of approximately $530 million.

The agreement does not include Campbell’s recently-acquired Kelsen Group, which will continue its operations in Denmark and the export of its products to countries in Europe and throughout the world. Campbell will continue to export Pepperidge Farm products throughout Europe and Campbell’s products in the United Kingdom and the Middle East and Africa.

Campbell said it intends to use the proceeds of the sale to pay down debt and for other general corporate purposes.

“This sale reflects a strategic choice,” said Denise Morrison, president and chief executive officer of Campbell. “We are in the process of reshaping our portfolio to change Campbell’s future growth trajectory. As part of this effort, we will be focusing our investments, resources and talent on building the brands that we believe we can grow around the world, strengthening our core and expanding our business in faster-growing geographies and categories.”

The transaction is subject to clearance by the relevant European competition law authorities. Campbell expects the transaction will be completed in the fourth quarter of calendar 2013.
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