Campbell gets the munchies, buys Snyder's-Lance for $4.87B

Campbell gets the munchies, buys Snyder's-Lance for $4.87B

Campbell said it would acquire Snyder's-Lance Inc. for $6.1 billion, including debt, the largest deal in the company's history.

The deal, if consummated, could value the Pretzels and Cape Cod chips maker at about $50 per share, which would value Snyder's at about $4.87 billion.

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The deal underscores the drive for food industry consolidation as traditional food companies watch their sales drop and struggle to create growth or innovation on their own. Shares of Campbell and Hershey were also up in midday trading. Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard wrote in a note that "this deal appears to be the latest attempt by Campbell to bring back growth, having experienced several tough quarters with declining sales in soup".

Campbell stock gained 26 cents to $49.85. Snyder's-Lance, the No. 5 USA healthy savoury snacks maker, also owns brands such as Eatsmart veggie snacks.

"The transaction also unlocks the value of our portfolio, reflecting the progress we have made planning and executing our transformation".

That makes it a rare bright spot in an otherwise bleak market for packaged food.

The purchase of the snack maker "will provide our customers with an even greater variety of better-for-you snacks".

Campbell and Hershey, iconic American mainstays, are under growing pressure from consumers looking for healthier options as well as more portable, convenient alternatives to cooking.

Snyder's-Lance, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, makes pretzels and chips.

Following the purchase, Campbell's projects that snacking will represent 46% of its sales on a pro forma basis next year, while soup products are anticipated to make up 27% of sales.

Campbell plans to finance the acquisition through $6.2 billion of debt comprising a combination of long-term and short-term debt. The transaction's close is subject to the approval of Snyder's-Lance shareholders, as well as customary regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

Campbell's share of the US soup market has dropped seven percentage points over the last five years to 42%, according to research firm Euromonitor.

"The acquisition of Snyder's-Lance will accelerate Campbell's strategy and is in line with our goal, 'real food that matters for life's moments, '" noted Denise Morrison, president and CEO of Camden, N.J. -based Campbell.

Credit Suisse acted is Campbell's lead financial adviser and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP its legal counsel.

Both Campbell and Hershey said these deals will also allow them to save money by combining some operations. Goldman Sachs & Co LLC advised Snyder's-Lance and Jenner & Block LLP gave legal counsel. The company acquired Bolthouse Farms in August 2012, organic baby food company Plum in June 2013, biscuit company Kelsen in August 2013, fresh salsa and hummus maker Garden Fresh Gourmet in June 2015, and organic broth and soup producer Pacific Foods in December 2017.

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