TreeHouse Foods: to Acquire ConAgra’s Private Brands Business for 2.7 Billion USD

Oak Brook / IL. (thf) TreeHouse Foods announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire ConAgra Foods’ private brands operations. Annual sales of the combined entity will be nearly seven billion USD. The transaction is valued at 2.7 billion USD, and closing is anticipated in the first quarter of 2016.

The acquisition of ConAgra’s private brands operations will meaningfully expand TreeHouse’s presence in private label dry and refrigerated grocery. The private brands operations had sales of approximately 3.6 billion USD for the twelve months ended May 31, 2015. Following the acquisition, TreeHouse will have pro forma sales of nearly seven billion USD and adjusted Ebitda of approximately 690 million USD. Upon closing, TreeHouse will have more than 50 manufacturing facilities and over 16’000 employees.

«Since our founding ten years ago, our strategy has been to drive shareholder value by consolidating supply of private label brands. We offer our customers value without compromise through economies of scale, quality products and superior customer service», said Sam K. Reed, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TreeHouse Foods.

«The union of TreeHouse and ConAgra’s private brands business establishes an industry leader in customer brands and custom products with significant scale, scope and skill and enables us to extend our reach in the grocery store by over ten shelf stable and refrigerated food categories. Importantly, the combination will also strengthen our ability to support our customers’ efforts to build their corporate brands and offer consumers the best combination of choice and value», Reed continued.

The Boards of Directors of both companies have approved the transaction, which is subject to the expiration or termination of applicable waiting periods under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, the Competition Act (Canada) and other customary closing conditions.

Financial Terms

The purchase price of 2.7 billion USD is expected to be funded by a combination of 1.8 billion USD in new debt issuance and approximately 1.0 billion USD in equity stock issuance. TreeHouse has entered into a committed financing arrangement with its lenders, comprised of a combination of Secured Term Loan A, Secured Term Loan B and Unsecured Bridge facilities. In conjunction with the committed financing, the Company will amend its existing 1.4 billion USD credit facility to allow for the acquisition and the associated debt incurrence. No additional changes in borrowing costs or other terms are anticipated.

Both the financing and the acquisition are expected to close in the first quarter of 2016. TreeHouse Foods expects to incur approximately 100 million USD in costs associated with transaction fees and issuance costs.

TreeHouse expects the transaction to be dilutive by 0.20 USD to 0.35 USD in adjusted earnings per share in year one, to contribute 0.55 USD to 0.70 USD in year two and to be accretive by 1.50 USD to 1.65 USD in year three. Investments to deconsolidate and integrate the private brands business, combined with the financing costs for the transaction, will exceed contributions from the private brands business in year one. In years two and three, synergies will ramp up significantly, while costs to integrate the business will wind down. Synergies will largely be driven by procurement and supply chain optimization.

Morgan Stanley + Co. LLC and BofA Merrill Lynch are acting as financial advisors to TreeHouse Foods on the transaction and Winston + Strawn LLP is serving as legal counsel to the Company.

Third Quarter Preview

TreeHouse also previewed its third quarter results and pre-announced sales of 799 million USD, which compares to sales of 796 million USD in the third quarter of 2014. The Company expects to report earnings per fully diluted share of 0.64 USD to 0.65 USD compared to 0.47 USD per fully diluted share reported for the third quarter of last year.

On an adjusted basis, earnings per share in the third quarter are expected to total 0.85 USD to 0.86 USD compared to 0.89 USD in the prior year. Positive tax adjustments are expected to contribute approximately 0.05 USD of earnings in the quarter.

Additionally, the Company reaffirmed its guidance for the full year 2015 of 3.00 USD to 3.15 USD in adjusted earnings per share. Further detail on the third quarter results will be provided as scheduled on Thursday, November 05, 2015.