TreeHouse Foods in advanced talks to acquire Flagstone Foods-sources

June 26 Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:56pm EDT

June 26 (Reuters) - Private-label food retailer TreeHouse Foods Inc is in late-stage talks to acquire Flagstone Foods, a maker of dried fruits and nuts, for between $800 million and $900 million, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Oakbrook, Illinois-based TreeHouse Foods has prevailed over Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital Co at the final stage of the auction for Flagstone, which is owned by San Francisco-based private equity firm Gryphon Investors, the people said.

The people cautioned that negotiations had not yet been finalized and asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

Representatives for Flagstone Foods, Gryphon, TreeHouse and Hony Capital could not be immediately reached for comment.

TreeHouse, which has a market value of $2.9 billion, said earlier this year it was looking at expanding its non-branded food business.

TreeHouse explored buying egg and dairy producer Michael Foods earlier this year, people familiar with the matter said at the time. Cereal maker Post Holdings Inc clinched a deal to buy Michael Foods in April for $2.45 billion.

Food companies are looking at moving into the health and wellness category as shoppers look for healthier options in the supermarket.

Post Holdings, for example, has recently bought a number of companies that help consumers lead healthy lifestyles, including protein bar makers Dymatize and PowerBar.

Gryphon created Flagstone in 2010 through the merger of Amport Foods and Ann's House of Nuts. The company is one of the largest makers and distributors or private label healthy snacks in the United States. (Additional reporting by Soyoung Kim in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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