July 8, 2015 / 8:20 PM / in 3 years

ConAgra turns to Centerview again for advice on Ralcorp -sources

July 8 (Reuters) - ConAgra Foods Inc has hired Centerview Partners to explore a sale of its private label unit Ralcorp, just two years after it acquired the troubled business with advice from the same investment bank, people familiar with the matter said.

The maker of Chef Boyardee and Slim Jim snacks, which last month announced it would exit its private label food business, also has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc to provide additional advice on the sale, the people said this week.

Representatives for ConAgra, Centerview and Goldman declined to comment.

ConAgra relied on Centerview and Bank of America Corp for advice when it acquired Ralcorp in January 2013 for $5.1 billion. Goldman advised Ralcorp alongside Barclays Plc .

At the time, the deal was viewed as a personal success for then-ConAgra CEO Gary Rodkin, who had pursued Ralcorp for more than a year and a half.

But Ralcorp, which makes private label cereal, pasta, crackers, jams and jellies, syrups and frozen waffles, has been plagued with problems ranging from customer service issues to pricing concessions. Sales have fallen nearly 6 percent in the past two years.

Activist fund Jana Partners announced a 7.2 percent stake in ConAgra last month and said it would push to nominate directors to the company’s board that supported its desire to exit the private label business.

ConAgra Chief Executive Sean Connolly, who joined the company in April, has said the effort to fix Ralcorp was draining resources.

“We know that the inconsistency of our past performance is totally unacceptable,” Connolly said in an earnings call last month. (Reporting by Lauren Hirsch and Olivia Oran in New York; Editing by Paul Simao)

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