Hillshire Brands to buy Van's Natural Foods for $165 million

Hillshire Brands Co., the maker of Jimmy Dean sausage links and Ball Park franks, said Monday it will pay $165 million to buy Van's Natural Foods from Catterton Partners, a private equity firm.

The deal will add a line of healthful, frozen breakfast and snack foods to Hillshire's existing brands, which also includes Sara Lee foods. The addition is expected to generate net revenue of $60 million in 2014, the company said in a statement.

Van's Natural Foods, based in Phoenix, makes gluten-free pancakes and whole-grain waffles. It also makes cereals and multigrain chips.  

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“The Van’s brand is a terrific addition to our portfolio,” said Sean Connolly, Hillshire's chief executive. “Not only does it expand our presence in the frozen category, it also gives us a proven health and wellness brand with extendability beyond frozen.”

Van's Natural Foods will be part of Hillshire's retail segment and its current management will stay on to lead the division. The transaction is expected to close in May. 

Van's first started as a beachside restaurant in Southern California before producing food for retail outlets in 1988. It was previously based in Vernon. Catterton Partners acquired the company in 2006. 

Hillshire Brands, based in Chicago, reported $4 billion in sales in its 2013 fiscal year. Its shares were down $0.21 Monday to $35.90. 


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