Campbell to sell Kelsen snacks unit to Ferrero for $300 million

(Reuters) - Campbell Soup Co CPB.N said on Friday it would sell its Danish unit Kelsen Group to an affiliate of Nutella maker Ferrero SpA for $300 million (£239 million).

Belgian holding company CTH Invest, a Ferrero affiliate, said it would take over Kelsen’s two production facilities in Denmark and add fine biscuits assortments to its portfolio with the deal.

“The sale of Kelsen Group supports our strategy to focus on North America where we have iconic brands and strong market positions, while reducing debt,” Campbell Chief Executive Officer Mark Clouse said in a statement.

Kelsen, whose snacks brands include Kjeldsens and Royal Dansk, had net sales of about $157 million in the latest 12 months.

Campbell’s international unit, along with its “fresh” business, was put up for sale in August last year after the company was pressured by investors to improve profitability and stock performance.

Italian confectionery group Ferrero competed with other bidders, including a consortium comprising private equity firms KKR & Co KKR.N and Bain Capital LP and Oreo cookies maker Mondelez International Inc MDLZ.O, for Campbell's international unit.

Campbell said in February it expected to name buyers for the business by the end of its fiscal year in July.

The company said the process to divest the remainder of Campbell International, including Australian biscuit brand Arnott’s, is proceeding.

The sale is expected to close in the first quarter of fiscal 2020, Campbell said.

Campbell was advised by Centerview Partners, Goldman Sachs and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. Rothschild & Co and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP advised the Ferrero affiliate.

Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; editing by Gopakumar Warrier