LOS ANGELES — Butterfly Equity, a private equity firm focused on the food sector, has agreed to acquire Bolthouse Farms from Campbell Soup Co. for $510 million in cash.
Based in Bakersfield, Calif., and Santa Monica, Calif., Bolthouse Farms manufactures and markets fresh carrots, refrigerated premium beverages and refrigerated salad dressings. The company employs approximately 2,200 people and has facilities in Bakersfield; Hodgkins, Ill.; Wheatley, Ont.; and Prosser, Wash.
Butterfly operating partner Jeff Dunn previously led the Bolthouse Farms business as president and chief executive officer from 2008 to 2012, when it was acquired by the Campbell Soup Co. He continued to lead Bolthouse Farms for Campbell Soup Co. as president of the Campbell Fresh division until his departure from the company in 2016. Mr. Dunn will again assume the role of c.e.o. of Bolthouse Farms following the close of the transaction, which is expected to occur this summer.
“Bolthouse Farms holds a special place in the produce industry, and my team and I are deeply committed to strengthening and broadening Bolthouse Farms’ unique legacy,” Mr. Dunn said. “We can’t wait to get started.”
Upon completion of the sale, Campbell Soup Co. will have divested its entire Campbell Fresh division as part of previously announced plans to streamline operations. The Camden, N.J.-based company previously announced the sales of Garden Fresh Gourmet and a refrigerated soup plant in Everett, Wash. The Campbell Fresh business unit had net sales of $970 million in 2018. Proceeds from the divestitures will be used to reduce debt by approximately $570 million, according to the company.
“The sale of Bolthouse Farms supports our strategy to focus on our two core North American businesses, Campbell Snacks and Campbell Meals and Beverages, where we have iconic brands and strong market positions,” said Mark Clouse, president and c.e.o. of Campbell Soup.
As outlined in a board-led strategy and portfolio review this past August, Campbell said it would divest both its Campbell Fresh and Campbell International businesses. The process to divest Campbell International is ongoing, according to the company. Possible suitors for the company’s Arnott’s cookie and cracker brands include Mondelez International, Inc., Ferrero Group, Kraft Heinz Co. and a couple consortiums backed by private equity firms, according to reports.
Butterfly Equity specializes in “seed to fork” investments across agriculture, aquaculture, food and beverage products, food distribution and food service. Bolthouse Farms marks the firm’s fourth investment.