Paulucci sold Bellisio Foods day before death, CEO saysBellisio's CEO and chairman Joel Conner said the purchaser, whom he won't identify until the transaction closes, is a New York-based private equity group.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
Just one day before his Nov. 24 death, Northland business icon Jeno Paulucci agreed to sell Bellisio Foods Inc., according to Joel Conner, the company’s chairman and CEO.
The transaction has not yet closed and until it does, Conner said he was not comfortable sharing the buyer’s name. However, he did identify the prospective new owner as a New York-based private equity group.
The deal likely will be completed by year’s end, barring complications, Conner predicted.
Bellisio Foods is the fourth-largest producer of frozen entrees in the nation, churning out about 2 million entrees and 100 tons of pizza rolls each day. The only producers larger than it are Nestle, ConAgra and Heinz.
The sale price of the company has not been made public, but Financial Times reported in July that the business was being shopped around by Lazard Middle Market. It wasn’t the first time the company had gone on the auction block, with the Paulucci family asking for a price of between $500 million and $600 million previously, according to reports. In July, Financial Times said the price had likely fallen below $500 million because of a weakening dollar.
Bellisio employs about 1,500 companywide. The bulk of its production is in Jackson, Ohio. However, the company also has operations in Minnesota, including a smaller production facility in Lakeville and several offices in Duluth. Conner said functions still based in Duluth include accounting, customer service, consumer affairs and packaging design. He said he expects those operations to remain even after the sale of Bellisio Foods is completed.