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Saputo to acquire Morningstar division from Dean Foods

Dec. 13, 2012 | 0 comments

Saputo, Inc., a Canadian-based company that increased its footprint in Wisconsin a few years ago by buying out Alto Dairy Cooperative near Waupun will now take over a subsidiary of Dean Foods Co., for a reported $1.45 billion.

Saputo has finalized an agreement to buy Morningstar Foods, LLC, a subsidiary of Dean Foods, which manufactures dairy and non-dairy cultured products.

The Morningstar division make extended shelf-life products, including creams and creamers, ice cream mixes, whipping cream, aerosol whipping cream, iced coffee, half and half, value-added milks, sour cream and cottage cheese.

Morningstar products, which are sold across the United States, enter the marketplace under a variety of private labels and brands. That division of the Dallas-based Dean Foods has approximately 2,000 employees and operates 10 manufacturing facilities in nine states.

Morningstar's revenue came to about $1.6 billion (Canadian) in the 12 months through Sept. 30, according to a Saputo statement.

Saputo also said the purchase is being financed through a new bank loan and that it will boost the combined company's bottom line immediately after the deal closes, which is expected at the end of December.

If the two companies had been combined over the last 12 months, they would have had revenue of about $8.6 billion and net earnings of about $563 million in Canadian dollars, according to the Saputo statement.

Once the deal is done, Saputo will have about 12,000 employees and 57 manufacturing plants in five countries - Argentina, Great Britain and Germany - in addition to the United States and Canada.

In its own statement announcing the sale, Dean Foods said it will use virtually all of the proceeds to substantially cut company debt.

Saputo said the acquisition of Morningstar will mesh well with its Saputo Dairy Products Division (USA) and will boost its national manufacturing and distribution footprint.

In a statement Gregg Tanner, chief executive officer of Dean Foods, said Dean will use net proceeds of the sale to cut debt adding that the sale "increases our ability to sharpen our focus on the conventional dairy business to deliver continued value to our shareholders."

Dean Foods expects to realize $887 million in proceeds from the sale, after taxes and expenses. The company said paying off debt will "lower its leverage" and increase its financial flexibility.

As a condition of the sale, Dean Foods also entered into an agreement with The White Wave Foods Co., a controlled subsidiary of Dean Foods. Under that deal White Wave will receive a net $60 million after taxes as consideration for the termination of an option to purchase plant capacity and property at a Morningstar facility and the sale to Morningstar of certain specified manufacturing equipment.

"This is an exciting time for all of us at Morningstar," said Kevin Yost, president of Morningstar Foods.

"In recent years, the business has grown significantly faster than the industry, driven by strong execution, new product innovation and consumer trends that favor our products. Our employees and customers continue to be the centerpiece of our company."

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