WINNIPEG, MAN. — Richardson International Ltd., a privately-held Canadian agriculture and food processing company, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the Wesson oil business from Conagra Brands, Inc., Chicago. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The agreement includes all assets related to the Wesson brand, including a 280,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Memphis, Tenn. The Wesson edible oil portfolio includes vegetable, canola, corn and blended oils. The deal is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2019 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.
The announcement follows a terminated transaction between Conagra Brands and The J.M. Smucker Co., which in May 2017 had agreed to buy the Wesson oil brand for approximately $285 million in cash. In March 2018, the companies called off the deal after the Federal Trade Commission threatened to block it. Smucker owns the Crisco brand, a key competitor to Wesson in the market for edible oils. A key issue raised by the F.T.C. was that if the transaction were completed, Orrville, Ohio-based Smucker would control at least 70% of the market for branded canola and vegetable oils sold at retail.
Headquartered in Winnipeg, Richardson International is a subsidiary of family-owned James Richardson & Sons, Ltd. and is a global handler and merchandiser of grains and oilseeds. The company produces a variety of food products and ingredients for retail, food service and industrial markets.
“The rich history of both our company and the Wesson brand makes this an exciting acquisition for us,” said Curt Vossen, president and chief executive officer of Richardson International. “We believe that consumers will continue to seek out high-quality foods, and aligning with the Wesson brand expands our ability to meet that consumer desire.”
Mr. Vossen said the company will invest in the Memphis facility and is committed to a continued presence for marketing, manufacturing and distributing Wesson products in the United States.
“We are excited about expanding into this geography and look forward to investing in the future of this plant, the employees and the community,” he said. “Our recent $30 million investment to build an innovation center focused on product development will provide a modern platform for testing solutions and exploring new ideas, creating the perfect match to develop truly innovative products to meet and exceed consumer expectations.”
When Conagra Brands first announced plans to sell the Wesson business, Sean Connolly, president and c.e.o., said, “We continue to reshape our portfolio and focus our resources on priorities that support Conagra’s business strategy and drive value creation for shareholders.”