Campbell Soup selling European simple meals to CVC

AP News
Posted: Oct 01, 2013 5:09 PM

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Campbell Soup Co. is selling its European simple meals business to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners for 400 million euros ($542 million).

The deal includes Campbell's national brands of soups, sauces and simple meals, including Liebig and Royco in France, Erasco in Germany, Blå Band in Sweden and Devos Lemmens and Royco in Belgium. It also includes four plants in Belgium, France, Germany and Sweden. The businesses included in the deal had annual sales of approximately $530 million in the fiscal year that ended in July.

The transaction doesn't include the Kelsen Group, a Danish snack company that Campbell bought in June for an undisclosed sum. Campbell also said that it will continue to export Pepperidge Farm products in Europe and Campbell's products in the U.K., Middle East and Africa.

Campbell said in August that it was in final and exclusive talks with CVC about the potential sale of the European simple meals business.

Campbell President and CEO Denise Morrison said in a statement that the sale is a "strategic choice," as the Camden, N.J., company is reshaping its holdings in order to concentrate on building brands that are expected to have growth potential worldwide. Campbell is also looking to strengthen its core brands and expand its business in faster-growing regions and categories, she added.

Campbell said Tuesday that it plans to use proceeds from the sale of the European simple meals business to pay down debt and for other general corporate purposes.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter, but still needs clearance from the appropriate European competition law authorities.

Shares of Campbell Soup Co. closed up 50 cents, or 1.2 percent, at $41.21 Tuesday.