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Conagra hits $8.1B frozen-food deal

Thursday 28 June 2018 01:59 PM


Conagra Brands Inc. agreed to buy Pinnacle Foods Inc. for about $8.1 billion in cash and stock, gaining freezer-aisle brands such as Birds Eye to capitalize on growing demand for frozen foods.

The deal values Pinnacle at $68 a share, the companies said in a statement Wednesday. The price is 23 percent above Pinnacle's closing level on April 19, when an activist investor disclosed a stake in the Parsippany, N.J., company and began pushing it to sell itself. Bloomberg News reported last week that Conagra had approached Pinnacle about a deal. Including assumed debt, the deal values Pinnacle at about $10.9 billion.
The purchase will give Chicago-based Conagra more exposure to one of the few bright spots in the grocery store: Frozen-food sales are growing after years of decline. Even millennials, known for their foodie tastes, are embracing frozen meals, which are convenient and less expensive than takeout. More than half of Pinnacle's revenue comes from frozen brands including Birds Eye, Van de Kamp's and the Gardein line of vegetarian products.

But investors were skeptical of the combination, and shares of both companies fell. Conagra dropped $2.78 to close at $35.45; Pinnacle Foods fell $2.91 to $64.95.

In Arkansas, Pinnacle Foods has sales offices in Bentonville and is considered Fayetteville's largest private employer.