Goldman Sachs, Vestar Capital close to buying Hearthside Food Solutions for $1.1 bn

Goldman Sachs Group's private equity arm and Vestar Capital Partners are close to finalising a deal to buy Hearthside Food Solutions, for more than $1.1 billion, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The talks with Hearthside's private equity owner, Wind Point Partners, are in the final stage and a deal may be announced in the coming days, the report said.

The Goldman Sachs- Vestar combine emerged the winning bidder in the auction, which also attracted bids from BC Partners and Oak Hill Capital Partners, the report added.

Barclays Plc had late last year launched an auction for Illinois-based Hearthside, which had earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of around $120 million for the year.

Hearthside is the US food industry's largest contract manufacturer, and the largest private bakery having 20 facilities producing baked foods, snacks and packaging services.

The company was created in 2009 by ConAgra Foods veteran and Hearthside chairman Rich Scalise and Wind Point by buying four operating snack manufacturing facilities in Michigan from the Roskam Baking Company.

With aggressive acquisitions, it now has 20 facilities in 8 states and employs over 7,500 people.

Hearthside does not reveal who its clients are, but analysts estimate that the company has over 100 contracts, with 80 to 85 per cent of them devoted to contract manufacturing.