Food giants Kraft Heinz and Mondelez International have been short-listed to participate in the second round of Campbell Soup Co.’s auction of its international business, reports suggest.
News agency Reuters, quoting two sources, said both Kraft Heinz and Mondelez are interested in the assets, which include Campbell’s Australian cookie brand Arnott’s and Denmark-baked snacks maker Kelsen Group, to expand their global footprint.
However, Krupa Global Investments, one of Kraft Heinz’s largest shareholders, has announced its opposition to the company participating in the auction and has vowed to organise a proxy contest for control of the business should the deal proceed.
Pavol Krupa, chairman of Krupa, said: “This auction process may be great for Dan Loeb [owner of hedge fund Third Point and a Campbell activist investor] and Campbell Soup but it does nothing for Kraft Heinz and its shareholders.
“Campbell is selling its international assets for a reason thus we are concerned that these assets could be a drain on Kraft Heinz’s profitability and add to its debt. We strongly oppose Kraft Heinz’s participation in this auction and will organise a strong campaign against it if necessary.”
Campbell’s international assets are expected to be sold for around US$3bn.
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The US soup giant announced in August that it would be selling its international assets – and its US chilled foods portfolio – following a lengthy review of its business.
Reuters’ sources said that private equity firms Bain Capital, KKR & Co. and FinTrek Capital Hong Kong Co. also made the short list to participate in the second round of the auction.
They said Italian confectionery heavyweight Ferrero, which had previously also expressed interest in the assets, is in talks with Campbell over whether it will remain involved in the auction process.
The auction is expected to wrap up in the first quarter of this year.
Campbell, Kraft Heinz, Mondelez, Ferrero, Bain, KKR and FinTrek Capital did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.