May 6, 2019 / 1:58 PM / 2 months ago

U.S. group Conagra Brands sells frozen food unit to Italian investors

MILAN (Reuters) - A consortium of Italian investors has agreed to buy Italy-based frozen food business Gelit from Conagra Brands as the U.S. group seeks to sharpen its focus on core businesses.

The move by Chicago-based Conagra is similar to that of Kraft Heinz, which plans to sell Italian baby food business Plasmon to focus on its global brands.

Conagra, which owns Birds Eye frozen vegetable meals among others, wanted to divest Gelit because it is a private label company and a local brand, a source close to the matter said.

The parties did not reveal the financial details but the source said the Italian consortium of private equity firms Consilium and Progressio and entrepreneur Massimo Menna paid a little more than 70 million euros ($78.3 million).

Gelit, which produces frozen ready meals for supermarket chains, last year achieved sales of 45 million euros and core earnings of 9 million euros.

The buyers have been advised by Banca IMI and legal firm BonelliErede.

Intesa Sanpaolo’s Mediocredito Italiano provided funding for the deal, the buyers said.

BNP Paribas and legal firm Jones Day advised Conagra Brands.

($1 = 0.8939 euros)

Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by David Goodman

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