Campbell Soup to partially divest European brands to CVC Capital

CampbellsoupCampbell Soup Co, the world's largest soup maker, yesterday said it was in final and exclusive negotiations with private equity firm CVC Capital Partners for the potential sale of some of its businesses in Europe.

The move comes a year after Campbell acquired Bolthouse Farms from private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners for $1.55 billion - Campbell's largest deal to date.

The proposed transaction 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.

The proposed sale also includes Campbell's four plants in Puurs, Belgium; Le Pontet, France; Lubeck, Germany; and Karpalund in Sweden.

It does not include Pepperidge Farm products throughout Europe or Campbell's products in the UK or the Middle East or Africa. It also does not include Kelsen Group, which will continue its operations in Denmark and the export of its products to countries in Europe and throughout the world.

The New Jersey-based company said that it will conduct an information and consultation process with its European and local works councils in relation to the proposed transaction, in accordance with applicable laws.

In fiscal 2012, the Campbell businesses included in the proposed transaction generated annual net sales of approximately $530 million.

Campbell anticipates that the proposed sale would be completed in the first quarter of its fiscal 2014.

The proposed sale comes a year after Campbell closed two plants and cut over 700 jobs in a bid to cut costs as consumption of its canned soups declines.

The company closed its oldest US plant in Sacramento, California, built in 1947, and a spice plant in South Plainfield, New Jersey.