Thai CPF to buy U.S. frozen-food firm Bellisio in $1.08 billion deal

Markets Reuters

Thailand's Charoen Pokphand Foods Pcl (CPF) said it will acquire U.S. frozen-food producer Bellisio Parent LLC for $1.075 billion, paving the way for an entry into the world's largest food market.

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The acquisition is in line with CPF's strategy to expand into high-potential markets, CEO Adirek Sripratak said in a statement.

CPF, controlled by Thailand's richest man Dhanin Chearavanont, signed a purchase agreement on Thursday with seller Bellisio Consolidated Equity, the statement said.

The transaction, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, is expected to be completed within 180 days, and will enable CPF to gain access to the North American market, it said.

Bellisio group is the third-largest producer of single-serve frozen entrees in the United States by unit share with well-known brands such as Michelina's, Boston Market, Chili's, and Atkins.

The U.S. firm, which launched operations in 1990, has four facilities located in Ohio, California and Minnesota. It leads the single-serve frozen entr��es market in Canada.

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Joel Conner, chairman and CEO of Bellisio group, said the deal should boost growth for Bellisio and support CPF's vision of being the "kitchen of the world."

Bellisio group reported net sales of $668 million for the year ended Sept. 11, 2016.

CPF, the flagship business of Thailand's largest agribusiness conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group, has been looking to buy assets overseas to boost growth and offset a slowdown at home.

JP Morgan was the financial advisor for the deal, while Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP acted as legal counsel for CPF.

Last month, Chai Tai (China) Investment Co, an indirect subsidiary of CPF, acquired a 70 percent stake in China's animal feed producer and chicken meat processor, Fujian Sumpo Foods Holding Co, for 1.7 billion baht ($48 million), as part of its business expansion in China.

(Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong and Manunphattr Dhanananphorn; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)