UPDATE 1-Kefir maker Lifeway buys rival for $10.1 mln in cash

Mon Feb 9, 2009 11:05am EST

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Feb 9 (Reuters) - Lifeway Foods Inc (LWAY.O), a supplier of yogurt-like dairy beverage kefir, agreed to buy its Philadelphia-based rival Fresh Made Dairy for about $10.1 million in cash to boost its presence in the probiotic dairy products market.

The deal is valued at a total price of about $14.1 million, which includes about $2.7 million in a note, $1 million of Lifeway's treasury shares and about $2.0 million in real estate, besides the cash component.

The deal will boost Lifeway's distribution network in the northeast U.S. -- "an important geographic market that was previously very difficult for Lifeway to target because local retailers were fiercely loyal to the Fresh Made brand," Lifeway CEO Julie Smolyansky said in a statement.

While Lifeway had total sales of about $44.5 million in 2008, Fresh Made had total sales of about $10 million.

Following the deal, Morton Grove, Illinois-based Lifeway plans to retain all Fresh Made employees, excluding several top executives.

Edward Smolyansky will assume the role of President and CEO of Fresh Made, Lifeway Foods added.

Lifeway shares were up 14 cents at $8.29 Monday morning on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan in Bangalore; Editing by Amitha Rajan)

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