Faegre, Hogan Lovells steer General Mills' $1.2 bln kibble deal with Tyson

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General Mills breakfast cereal is shown for sale in Carlsbad, California, U.S., June 27, 2017. REUTERS/ Mike Blake

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(Reuters) - In its latest assignment for longtime client General Mills Inc, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath is advising the company on its $1.2 billion all-cash purchase of Tyson Foods Inc’s pet food business.

Tyson Foods turned to a team from Hogan Lovells for the sale, which comes as people are increasingly adopting cats and dogs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minneapolis-based General Mills announced the acquisition plans on Friday as part of its efforts to reshape its pet food portfolio, which will add the Nudges, Top Chews and True Chews brands to its holdings.

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Faegre Drinker, whose predecessor firm Faegre Baker Daniels was also headquartered in Minneapolis, has long represented General Mills in litigation and M&A matters, including the company's acquisition of organic foods brand Annie's Inc. in 2014 and the sale of its Green Giant vegetable business in 2015.

The over 1,300-attorney firm was created last year through the combination of Faegre Baker Daniels and Philadelphia's Drinker Biddle & Reath. The combined firm says it has a team of more than 150 attorneys that advises companies in food and agribusiness sectors.

For the Tyson deal, Faegre Drinker fielded a team to advise General Mills that includes corporate and mergers & acquisitions partners W. Morgan Burns and Brandon Mason in Minneapolis.

On the other side, Tyson tapped a Hogan Lovells team including Washington, D.C., M&A partner Mahvesh Qureshi and Baltimore-based M&A counsel Derrik Forshee.

Pet adoption rates at U.S. animal shelters jumped as much as 40% in 2020 over the previous year, giving the pet food industry a boost.

The new brands General Mills acquires from Tyson will add to the cereal maker’s Blue Buffalo products. General Mills scooped up that brand in 2018 for $8 billion with guidance from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett guided Blue Buffalo on the transaction.

This year has already seen a flood of M&A activity, with upwards of $2 trillion worth of deals announced, pending and completed, according to data from Refinitiv. That’s a roughly 139% increase from the same period last year.

Barclays is General Mills' financial adviser for the Tyson deal. Tyson looked to BofA Securities and Siebert Williams Shank & Co.

The transaction is set to close this summer.

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