Mondelez to sell controlling stake in SnackWell's to Brynwood Partners

US food giant Mondelez International yesterday struck a deal to sell its controlling stake in its SnackWell's cookies and snacks business to private-equity firm Brynwood Partners, for an undisclosed sum.

Brynwood said its joint venture with Mondelez, the Back to Nature Foods Company, had acquired the stake in SnackWell's.

Mondelez, which was spun off from Kraft Foods in 2012,  owns a minority stake in the 2012 joint venture Back to Nature.

In 2003, Kraft Foods had acquired the Back to Nature brand from privately held manufacturer of natural products Organic Milling Inc, for an estimated $5 million.

SnackWell's was originally launched by Nabisco, Inc, in 1992 as a line of reduced-fat and fat-free cookies and crackers.

The brand, which includes Crème Sandwich Cookies, Devil's Food Cakes, Fudge Pretzels, Yogurt Pretzels, and Popcorn products in portion control sizes, offers a healthy snacking alternative with taste but reduced-fat content.

''We look forward to owning the SnackWell's brand and integrating it into our Back to Nature organization,'' said Vincent Fantegrossi, president and CEO of Back to Nature.

''SnackWell's is an iconic brand and we are excited about the potential that this acquisition brings to our company. SnackWell's significantly increases our scale in the important cookie and cracker categories,'' he added.

''We are thrilled to announce the SnackWell's transaction and are honoured that Mondelez Global has the confidence in Brynwood Partners to add another brand to this unique joint venture arrangement,'' said Henk Hartong, senior managing partner of Brynwood.

With over $900 million of assets under management, Greenwich, Connecticut-based Brynwood had acquired the cookie brand Stella D'oro Biscuit Co from Kraft Foods in 2006 and the Balance Bar Company in 2009.

Brynwood has over the years acquired several small brands from multinationals, including from Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Unilever, The Quaker Oats Company, Nestle and others.

It has developed a unique niche of being the lower middle market firm of choice for corporate divestitures. In its 29-year history, Brynwood Partners has now acquired 39 corporate brands from 15 different corporate sellers, including the SnackWell's acquisition. The SnackWell's transaction marks Brynwood Partners' second transaction with Mondelez Global LLC in addition to two others with Kraft Foods, Inc., the predecessor company of Mondelez Global LLC's parent, Mondelez International, Inc.