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CP Foods to buy US frozen entree maker for $1.1bn

A CP Foods chicken-processing center in Thailand (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

BANGKOK -- Thailand's Charoen Pokphand Foods on Thursday said it will acquire U.S.-based frozen food maker Bellisio Parent for $1.075 billion.

The transaction is expected to close within 180 days following regulatory approval, the company said in a statement.

The move is expected to help CP Foods achieve its 2020 goal of increasing its overseas take to 75% of overall revenue, from the current 60%.

Established in 1990, Bellisio is the third largest producer and distributor of single-serve frozen entrees in the U.S. Its brands include Michelina's, Boston Market, Chili's and Atkins. It also has a large market presence in Canada.

In the year through September, the group generated adjusted net sales of $668 million and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $82 million.

CP Foods is the core subsidiary of Charoen Pokphand Group, the conglomerate led by billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont. Operations range from feed production to chicken and shrimp farming, processed food and retail.

The company already exports seafood and chicken to the U.S. and is behind many private label products offered by large supermarket chains.

The Bellisio acquisition will be CP Foods' first actual investment in the country. It follows a failed attempt to acquire U.S. meat processor Smithfield several years ago.

"This transaction marks the first step of our entry into the world's largest food market, where we see significant growth and synergy opportunities," Adirek Sripratak, chief executive of CP Foods, said in a statement.

Adirek added that by leveraging Bellisio's vast distribution network and four manufacturing facilities, CP Foods hopes to launch Asian food products in the U.S.

"This acquisition is in line with [CP Foods'] strategic direction to expand into high-potential markets," he said.

It is also expected to boost CP Foods' processed food business, which currently accounts for around 12% of overall revenue.

Said Joel Conner, chairman and chief executive of Bellisio: "[We] are extremely excited to be part of the CP Foods family and share their vision of being the Kitchen of the World. I believe that our partnership will allow us to propel Bellisio through its next phase of growth."

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