US-based private-investment firm Highlander Partners has announced the merger of its Benestar Brands with Mexico snacks peer Palmex, a manufacturer owned by Wind Point Partners.

In the move, Wind Point will become the majority shareholder of the combined business, while Highlander will retain a “significant minority position”.

Meanwhile, the Pretzilla division of Benestar Brands, a fresh pretzel bread and snack manufacturer, will be spun out as a stand-alone business entity held by Highlander and Pretzilla’s management, including president and CEO, Bruce Myers.

Jose Luis Prado, the current chairman and CEO of Palmex, will step into the role of chairman and CEO for the combined organisation.Myers will continue to serve as president of the Benestar division within the combined company.

Prado has “over 30 years experience of leading snack businesses”, said Highlander in a statement. The chief executive has headed Evans Food Group, a former Wind Point portfolio company, was president of Quaker Oats North America, and CEO of Grupo Gamesa-Quaker.

Prado said the merger will accelerate growth and align resources to “innovate and capture emerging-market trends effectively, both within the ethnic and better-for-you categories”.

“This powerful combination of Palmex and Benestar represents a transformative step in our journey,” he said. “Our goal is to leverage this combination to introduce a wider range of innovative products, thereby enhancing our portfolio of offerings and market reach.”

Highlander added: “The merger creates a powerhouse in the North American salty snack industry, positioning the combined entity as one of the leading providers of Hispanic and better-for-you salty snacks across the continent.”

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Jeff Hull, CEO of Highlander, said uniting the two companies “marks a significant milestone” in [Benestar’s] expansion plan. Hull said Benestar’s strategy included expanding “organically” and “through multiple acquisitions”.

“We’re thrilled about the endless possibilities this partnership opens up, including leveraging each company’s unique capabilities to drive growth and market penetration,” he said.

Jeff Partridge, a partner at Highlander, said that “combining Benestar’s renowned brand portfolio with Palmex’s state-of-the-art pellet extrusion capabilities” will support innovation and accelerate growth.

“Highlander will remain actively involved with the combined business from the board level, using its extensive food-industry expertise to provide strategic guidance to the combined organisation,” said Partridge.

Pretzilla has manufacturing facilities in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Benestar is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, and it operates as a holding company for snack brands, including Mac’s, 4505, Turkey Creek and Pretzilla.

It operates seven production facilities across North America.

The Mac’s owner manufactures pork rinds and tortilla chips, serving both domestic and international markets.

Palmex, headquartered in Monterrey, Mexico, is a third-party manufacturer of better-for-you and “Hispanic” snack pellets. The business produces various salty snack products such as veggie sticks and straws.

Palmex has production facilities in Puebla and Monterrey in Mexico, and nine distribution centres, eight of them in Mexico, and one in Los Angeles.

It sells in various countries of North, South and Central America, such as the US, Canada, Mexico, Columbia and Brazil, as well as Australia.