ST. LOUIS — Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. late yesterday filed its initial Form 10 Registration Statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing paves the way for the St. Louis-based company to begin the process of separating Ralcorp and the Post cereal business, a transaction that is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

“This filing represents an important milestone in the process to separate Ralcorp and Post,” said William P. Stiritz, chairman of Ralcorp. “We believe that separating Post from Ralcorp will better allow each company to focus on strategies specific to their particular businesses, thereby unlocking significant value for our shareholders. Ralcorp’s strategic plan will focus on enhancing its position as a growth through acquisition private brand leader with a diverse product, customer and input array, while dedicating itself to operating low-cost, efficient and safe manufacturing facilities.

“Post’s strategic plan will focus on its most important brands and maintaining its best-in-class EBITDA margins and free cash flow profile. Post’s main asset is its great brand name, and we look forward to managing this valuable asset in a creative, imaginative and adaptive manner to enhance shareholder value. We firmly believe this plan will allow us to realize significant benefits for each company and our shareholders.”

Under the plan announced on July 14, Ralcorp said it intends to execute a tax-free spin-off of the Post cereal business to Ralcorp shareholders. Once the transaction is finalized, Ralcorp will continue to be the leading producer of private brand foods and a major producer of food service products, and Post will be the third largest branded ready-to-eat cereal manufacturer in the United States. Ralcorp will continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange, and Post intends to apply for listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

As part of the separation, Post will issue approximately $1.1 billion of debt with the net cash proceeds of approximately $1 billion going to Ralcorp. Ralcorp’s board of directors intends to use these proceeds to reduce debt, aggressively pursue private brand acquisitions and pursue additional share repurchases under the company’s remaining share repurchase authorization of approximately five million shares. In addition, Ralcorp said it expects to retain up to 20% of the outstanding shares of Post, which it intends to subsequently dispose of in a tax-free manner.

In a separate announcement yesterday, Ralcorp said Mr. Stiritz, currently chairman of Ralcorp, will take over as chief executive officer of Post Holdings following the separation of Ralcorp and the Post cereal business. He also will become chairman of Post Holdings.

“I am excited to lead Post forward and strongly believe in its future as an independent public company,” Mr. Stiritz said. “As we work through the separation process, we continue to plan for the future of Post, including its strategy, financing, marketing and other core corporate functions necessary to succeed. We remain fully committed to growing the brand and taking the steps necessary to create enhanced shareholder value.”

Meanwhile, James L. Holbrook has been named executive vice-president of marketing for Post Holdings, effective Oct. 3. Mr. Holbrook most recently was c.e.o. of EMAK Worldwide, and earlier he held marketing positions at Ralston Purina Co. and Procter & Gamble.

The remainder of the Post executive management team, including chief financial officer and chief operating officer, will be announced by the end of the year, Ralcorp said.