February 12, 2015 / 9:33 PM / 3 years ago

Hormel Foods nears deal for Applegate Farms: sources

(Reuters) - Hormel Foods Corp (HRL.N) is in late-stage talks to acquire Applegate Farms LLC, a privately held producer of organic hot dogs, bacon and sausages, to enhance its branded protein offerings, according to people familiar with the matter.

A deal for Applegate Farms could be announced as early as next week and value the Bridgewater, New Jersey-based company at between $600 million and $1 billion, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is confidential.

A representative for Applegate Farms could not be reached for comment. Hormel declined to comment.

Private equity firm Swander Pace invested an undisclosed amount in Applegate Farms in 2009. The company was founded in 1987 by current CEO Stephen McDonnell.

A sale of Applegate Farms would come amid a slew of merger activity for meat companies.

Recent high-profile deals in the sector have included Hershey Co's (HSY.N) acquisition of jerky company Krave, Post Holdings Inc's (POST.N) $2.5 billion acquisition of food processing company Michael Foods, and Tyson Foods Inc's (TSN.N) $8.6 billion acquisition of packaged meats producer Hillshire Brands.

The private equity owners of protein and sandwich supplier AdvancePierre Foods are also interviewing banks for a near-term sale of the company, sources told Reuters last week.

Hormel in August acquired Muscle Milk maker CytoSport Holdings Inc, a sports nutrition drink.

Reporting by Olivia Oran in New York; Editing by Christian Plumb

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