French food processor Bonduelle prepares bid for General Mills' Green Giant

Bonduelle SCA, a French producer and seller of processed vegetables, is in talks to team up with private equity firm Centerview Partners and bid for General Mills Inc's Green Giant frozen and canned vegetable business, Reuters yesterday reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

A tie up with Centerview would give Bonduelle, which has a market cap of €796 million $860 million), more capital and additional expertise in its pursuit of Green Giant, the report said.

Reuters had in March reported that Minneapolis-based General Mills had hired investment bank Rothschild to explore a sale of Green Giant, which has annual sales of around $700 million.

Green Giant, whose mascot is the Jolly Green Giant, was founded in 1903 in Le Sueur, Minnesota.  In 1979 it merged with the Pillsbury Company and was acquired by General Mills in 2001.

It has more than 160 different frozen vegetables products and grows them near their processing plants in Minnesota, Idaho, Wisconsin, New York, the Netherlands and Peru.

Bonduelle was founded in 1853 by Louis Bonduelle-Dalle and Louis Lesaffre as a grain and juniper berry distillery and later entered the frozen vegetable market.

Its canned and frozen vegetables products are sold through distribution channels like supermarkets, mini-markets, and through (restaurants, institutional food service, school dining halls etc.

It posted net income of $16.5 million last year on revenues of $2 billion.