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ConAgra seals Ralcorp deal to create $18bn CPG powerhouse

By Elaine WATSON , 29-Jan-2013
Last updated the 30-Jan-2013 at 00:03 GMT

Shareholders at Ralcorp have approved a mega-deal to combine Ralcorp with ConAgra Foods to create a one of the largest packaged foods companies in North America, with annual sales of $18bn.

The $90-a-share deal, struck on November 26 (after multiple abortive attempts to buy the company in 2011), also positions ConAgra as the largest private label packaged food business in the region, with around $4.5bn in private label sales, said CEO Gary Rodkin.

But he added: “While our private brand business has just grown significantly, we remain very focused on our other business segments and are committed to delivering results across the company."

ConAgra Foods’ HQ will stay in Omaha, Nebraska, and Rodkin will remain at the helm.

ConAgra boss Gary Rodkin to remain at the helm; Ralcorp boss Kevin Hunt to stay on as a consultant

ConAgra's Healthy Choice brand has been performing strongly this year

Ralcorp CEO Kevin Hunt will stay on as a consultant to ConAgra for the next 12 months; while Richard Koulouris, Ralcorp VP and president, and Charles Huber, VP and president of Ralcorp’s frozen bakery business, will report directly to Rodkin, effective immediately.

ConAgra Foods has established an integration team, led by a steering committee of senior managers from both companies, and staffed by a full support network of dedicated resources, said Rodkin.

“We are now in a position to begin the most substantial aspects of integration planning and look forward to learning from and working with our new colleagues.”

A spokeswoman told FoodNavigator-USA it was too early to talk about what the implications of the deal would be for the 500 staff working at Ralcorp's St Louis HQ or what cost savings the company thought might be achievable on an operational and administrative front from joining forces.

More details would be unveiled during a presentation to the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) in February, she said. 

Two become one

ConAgra is best known for its branded grocery products such as Marie Callendar’s and Healthy Choice frozen meals and desserts, Hebrew National hot dogs and Hunt's canned vegetables, but it also supplies frozen potato, vegetable, spice and grain products to restaurants, foodservice operators and commercial customers.

In the quarter ended Nov 25, it posted a 17.4% rise in profit to $211.6m on sales up 9% to $3.74bn, beating analysts’ expectations.

Sales in its Consumer Foods division (63% of fiscal 2012 sales) rose 11%, with an 11% contribution from acquisitions and 4% favorable price/mix, offsetting a 4% organic volume decline.  

Sales in the Commercial Foods segment (37% of fiscal 2012 sales) were up 5% reflecting a strong performance in the Lamb Weston potato operations and the pass-through of higher wheat costs via higher flour prices in its milling operations.

Ralcorp is a leading supplier of private-label foods for retailers and frozen bakery products for in-store bakeries and foodservice customers. 

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