Bellisio Foods to buy California food manufacturerBellisio Foods, the nation’s third-largest manufacturer of frozen entrees, is about to get bigger with a deal to purchase Overhill Farms.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
Bellisio Foods, the nation’s third-largest manufacturer of frozen entrees, is about to get bigger.
The company, which frozen food magnate Jeno Paulucci launched as Michelina’s in 1990, unveiled its plans last week to purchase Overhill Farms, a company with manufacturing facilities in the Los Angeles area, for about $80.9 million. The sale still needs to be approved by Overhill’s shareholders, but the deal is expected to close by October of this year.
Although it was once based in Duluth, Bellisio Foods now is headquartered in Minneapolis. Paulucci named the business in honor of Bellisio Solfare, the Italian village his family once called home.
One day before his death in 2011, the 93-year-old Paulucci sold the company to Centre Partners, a New York private equity firm for an undisclosed sum. His wife, Lois, preceded Paulucci in death by four days.
Although Bellisio Foods no longer has any manufacturing operations in Duluth, it still maintains an office in Canal Park handling accounts, customer service and package design.
Bellisio employs about 1,300 people companywide, with its largest facility in Jackson, Ohio, and a smaller plant in Lakeville, Minn.
Jeff Tuttle, Bellisio’s senior vice president of new business ventures, did not return messages from the News Tribune on Tuesday afternoon.
But Joel Conner, Bellisio’s chairman and CEO, issued a statement saying: “We believe that Overhill’s brand portfolio and West Coast manufacturing presence enables us to unlock meaningful synergies and better serve existing and new customers through expanded capabilities and a broader offering.”
Overhill employs about 650 people and had about $194 million in revenue during its last fiscal year. The company’s customers include the Panda Restaurant Group Inc., Jenny Craig Inc., Safeway Inc., Target Corp., Pinnacle Foods Group LLC and American Airlines Inc.
Overhill and Bellisio also sell frozen products under the Boston Market label through a joint agreement with Boston Market Corp. The acquisition of Overhill will bring all that business exclusively to Bellisio.
Bellisio’s product lineup includes more than 200 frozen entrees and snacks.
Assuming the acquisition proceeds as expected, Overhill’s investors are slated to receive a $5 cash payment for every share of publicly traded stock they hold. That represents a 15 percent premium compared with Overhill’s closing price of $4.36 per share on May 14, before news of the pending sale reached the market.
“After conducting an extensive review of potential strategic alternatives, our board concluded that this all-cash transaction was the best path to maximizing value for our shareholders,” James Rudis, Overhill’s chairman and CEO, said in a prepared statement.
“Additionally, in the course of our partnership on the Boston Market brand, we have seen that Bellisio is a company very similar to ours in terms of their business philosophy, corporate culture, focus on quality and customer service, and their entrepreneurial spirit,” Rudis said.
Bellisio Foods will remain a privately held company after it completes the buyout.