December 9, 2013 / 11:56 AM / 7 years ago

Milk producer WhiteWave to buy Earthbound Farm for $600 million

(Reuters) - Dairy products producer WhiteWave Foods Co WWAV.N said it would buy organic food brand Earthbound Farm from investors including private equity firm Kainos Capital for about $600 million to expand its offerings of organic products.

Traders await the opening of WhiteWave Foods on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, October 26, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Earthbound Farm produces packaged salads and organic fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, as well as dried fruits and snacks. Its sales are expected to top $500 million in 2013, WhiteWave said on Monday.

“With Horizon Organic and Earthbound Farm, WhiteWave will now provide the two most popular gateways for consumers to enter into the organic category - produce and dairy,” WhiteWave Chief Executive Gregg Engles said in the statement.

Sales of organic food and beverages are expected to reach about $188 billion by 2019, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 15.5 percent from 2013, according to a report by Transparency Market Research.

Earthbound Farm was founded in 1984 in California’s Carmel Valley by Drew and Myra Goodman, self-described transplants from Manhattan, who are also selling their stake.

WhiteWave, spun off from U.S. dairy company Dean Foods Co DF.N last year, said in October 2012 it planned to grow by making acquisitions outside of its core products, which include Silk soy milk and International Delight creamers.

The company said it would operate Earthbound Farm as a separate business with no significant operational changes after the acquisition closes in the first quarter of 2014.

WhiteWave said it expected the acquisition to add about 7 cents per share to adjusted net earnings in the first fiscal year after the transaction closes.

The company plans to fund the transaction with borrowings under its existing credit facilities, which it intends to boost by $500 million.

J.P. Morgan was financial adviser and Haynes and Boone LLP was legal adviser to WhiteWave. Barclays and Houlihan Lokey were financial advisers to Earthbound Farm, while Weil, Gotshal & Manges and Cooley LLP acted as legal adviser.

WhiteWave’s shares closed at $21.78 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.

Reporting By Maria Ajit Thomas in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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