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Pinnacle Foods to buy Birds Eye for $1.3 billion

Pinnacle Foods Group LLC, a manufacturer of brands including Duncan Hines, Vlasic and Mrs. Butterworth’s, announced Thursday it has signed an agreement to purchase Birds Eye Foods Inc. for some $1.3 billion.

Birds Eye’s headquarters is in the Linden Oaks Office Park in Penfield. It employs 1,700 people at various across the United States. Last year, Birds Eye reported 220 local workers. The firm logs annual sales of more than $930 million.

Last month, Birds Eye filed for an initial public offering to raise up to $350 million. As a result of the purchase agreement, the planned public offering of Birds Eye Foods stock will be withdrawn, Pinnacle Foods officials said.

Pinnacle Foods is owned by private-equity funds controlled by New Jersey-based the Blackstone Group.

The transaction is expected to close no later than the first quarter. Pinnacle Foods expects to fund the transaction using a combination of new debt financing at the company and a significant new equity contribution from Blackstone, officials said.

“We are excited about bringing Birds Eye Goods into the Pinnacle Foods family of brands,” said Pinnacle CEO Bob Gamgort in a statement. “This compelling combination creates a leader in both the frozen and shelf stable business segments and enables us to better serve our consumers and customers.”

Perinton-based Pro-Fac Cooperative Inc. owns 40 percent of Birds Eye, while Vestar Capital Partners Inc. in New York City owns 55 percent. Company management owns 5 percent, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show.

(c) 2009 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail rbj@rbj.net.

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