AP News

Unilever selling frozen foods unit to ConAgra

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Unilever is selling its North American frozen meals business which includes licensing rights to the Bertolli and P.F. Chang's brands to ConAgra Foods Inc. for $265 million, the companies announced Monday.

Unilever said it is making the move as part of its broader plan to exit the frozen foods business. ConAgra has been trying to expand its core business through a string of recent acquisitions.

The Bertolli and P.F. Chang's frozen meal brands generated about $300 million in sales in 2011, Unilever said. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2012.

The agreement does not include a production facility in Owensboro, Ky., where they products are currently made. Unilever will retain the Bertolli trademark and continue its existing pasta sauce business, with manufacturing operations remaining at its Kentucky site.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.

Unilever, based in the Netherlands, is a massive consumer products company with products ranging from Degree deodorant to Ragu pasta sauce.

ConAgra, based in Omaha, Neb., owns food brands ranging Chef Boyardee to Slim Jim. This will be the company's fifth acquisition in the last 12 months, following the purchase of National Pretzel Company, Del Monte Canada, Odom's Tennessee Pride and the pita chip business of Kangaroo Brands.

Unilever's U.S. shares rose 20 cents to $34.76 in afternoon trading while ConAgra's share price increased 48 cents, or 2 percent, to $24.78.

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