The Deal: Campbell Soup Sells European Biz

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) --Private equity house CVC Capital Partners Group stood, can-opener at the ready Monday to acquire most of the continental European activities of Campbell Soup ( CPB).

Camden, N.J.-based Campbell did not immediately give a valuation of the portfolio of businesses or reason for the sale, other than stating that CVC had made a firm offer to purchase. But it did say that the various businesses and brands in the package generated sales of about ¿400 million ($530 million) in 2012.

Company spokeswoman Carla Burigatto said she could not give further information on the price, Campbell's potential return on its European investments or the reason for the sale, as the agreement was not yet definitive.

Luxembourg-registered CVC is expected to finalize the agreement quickly, since the phrase "exclusive final negotiations" in continental European deals often means that final agreement is subject only to consultation with employees' representatives. In this case Campbell confirmed that assumption with the announcement that it has "the option to cause the parties to execute a binding share purchase agreement after the conclusion of the consultation process." Closure of the deal may take a little longer, as it is also subject to regulatory approval. The deal is expected to close in October.

CVC was similarly unwilling to reveal the value of the transaction, but said it has raised fully committed senior debt financing for the acquisition from Rabobank NV, ING Groep NV and BNP Paribas Fortis SA.

"CVC is committed to successfully growing the business further and to supporting its leading brand portfolio," said CVC's Steven Buyse in a statement.

Campbell Europe is primarily active in Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden and Finland. Headquartered in Puurs, Belgium it owns a portfolio of heritage consumer brands primarily in soups, sauces and bouillons such as Devos Lemmens, Royco, Liebig, Déli Soup, Erasco, Blå Band, Touch of Taste and Lacroix. The disposal also includes four plants in Puurs; Le Pontet, France; Lübeck, Germany; and Karpalund, Sweden. However it does not involve Denmark's Kelsen Group or the export of Pepperidge Farm products throughout Europe.

CVC is advised by Leopold Capital Partners, Barclays and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. Campbell's legal adviser is Allen & Overy.

-- Written by Jonathan Braudein New York

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