July 9, 2013 / 7:51 PM / 5 years ago

Del Monte Foods attracts interest from Fresh Del Monte, Pinnacle:sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pinnacle Foods (PF.N) and Fresh Del Monte (FDP.N) are among the companies considering offers for Del Monte Foods’ canned foods business, a deal that could be worth more than $1.5 billion, four people familiar with the process said on Tuesday.

San Francisco-based Del Monte Foods, which is backed by private equity firms including KKR & Co LP (KKR.N) and Centerview Partners, has been exploring a sale of its slow-growing canned foods business as it looks to concentrate on its pet foods unit, the sources said.

Del Monte Foods is speaking to companies in the food industry about the sale and has not focused on talks with private equity buyers, the sources said, adding that the process is still in the early stages. A deal could be valued at over $1.5 billion, two sources said.

All the sources asked not to be named because the matter is not public. Del Monte Foods declined to comment. Fresh Del Monte, Pinnacle Foods, KKR and Centerview could not be reached for comment.

A group of private equity firms led by KKR and Centerview acquired Del Monte Foods in 2011 for $5.3 billion including debt.

Fresh Del Monte, a producer and distributor of fresh fruit and vegetables, was spun off from Del Monte Foods in 1989, and is no longer affiliated with its former parent.

    In the fiscal year ended April 2013, Del Monte Foods had net sales of $3.82 billion. Its consumer foods business, which also includes Contadina tomatoes and College Inn broths, accounted for 48 percent of sales.

    The remaining portion of its revenue came from its pet food business, which has brands such as 9 Lives cat food and Milk Bone dog biscuits.

    Del Monte Foods is in the process of trying to revitalize its brand, which has lost ground as consumers have moved toward fresher produce.

    Reporting by Olivia Oran, Soyoung Kim and Martinne Geller in New York

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