B&G Foods in bid to buy Mazola cooking oil maker -sources

Sept 13 (Reuters) - Snack foods company B&G Foods Inc is in talks to acquire ACH Food Companies Inc, the producer of Mazola cooking oil, from food supplier and retailer Associated British Foods Plc, according to people familiar with the situation.

The deal would strengthen B&G’s hold on shelf-stable products sold in the center of a grocery store, expanding a portfolio that already includes staples such as Mrs. Dash salt-free flavoring and Vermont Maid syrups.

Associated British Foods has hired investment bank Moelis & Co to handle the sale, which could value ACH at between $300 million and $400 million, the people said this week. There is no certainty that any deal will occur or that B&G will prevail with its bid, the people added.

B&G and Moelis declined to comment. Representatives for Associated British Foods and ACH did not respond to requests for comment.

London-based Associated British Foods, which also owns discount fashion retailer Primark, warned on Monday the company’s pension plan will dip into negative territory, in part due to Brexit-induced currency pressures.

It also said this week it has agreed to sell its cane sugar business in southern China, in a deal Reuters has reported is valued at roughly $500 million.

ACH’s origins are in food company Kraft’s ingredients business, which Associated British Foods acquired in 1995. Its business has since grown to include products such as Fleischmann’s Yeast and Spice Islands seasoning.

ACH acquired the Mazola business, as well as Argo and Kingsford’s corn starch, Karo and Golden Griddle syrups, Henri’s salad dressings, and a number of related Canadian Brands, from Unilever Plc in 2002 for $360 million in cash.

Parsippany, New Jersey-based B&G, which sells Pirate’s Booty popcorn and Cream of Wheat breakfast porridge mixes, last year bought the Green Giant frozen foods and Le Sueur canned vegetable brands for about $765 million, to expand its distribution network and enter the frozen foods market.

Reporting by Lauren Hirsch in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis