Arnott’s, the Australia-based snacks business among the assets put up for sale by Campbell Soup Co., is reportedly being eyed by a clutch of the largest players in the sector.
Campbell Soup Co. is looking to offload its international division as part of plans to focus on North America and improve its performance.
CNBC today (12 November) reported Campbell has issued some details on Arnott’s and another unit within its international arm, Denmark-based snacks supplier Kelsen, to gauge interest.
The business publication said Oreo biscuits owner Mondelez International, US food group Kraft Heinz and Italy-based confectioner Ferrero are among the companies looking at Arnott’s.
Campbell expects to sign non-disclosure agreements on its international snacks business in the coming weeks, CNBC added.
Approached by just-food, Mondelez and Kraft Heinz declined to comment.
A spokesperson for Campbell said: “We do not comment on rumours or speculation. Campbell International is a solid business with strong brands. We expect Campbell International will be attractive to many different types of buyers because of its strong brands and position in the market. We’re focused on completing this transaction in a timely and disciplined manner that maximises value.”
The sale of Campbell’s international division was a result of a review launched by the company in the wake of a US$475m third-quarter loss booked in May, along with the departure of chief executive Denise Morrison.
As well as Arnott’s and Kelsen, Campbell is also looking to offload its US fresh food segment Campbell Fresh which includes Bolthouse Farms, acquired for US$1.55bn in 2012.
Last month, The Wall Street Journal said Campbell was in discussions with a group of investors led by Jeff Dunn, who ran Bolthouse Farms, over the sale of Campbell Fresh. The company declined to comment.
The plans to sell assets and focus on North America are being pursued while activist investor Third Point, which has been critical of Campbell’s performance, is putting pressure on the business and its board.
Third Point, which became a Campbell shareholder this summer, has argued the company’s review does not go far enough and has reportedly been pushing for a sale of the business. The fund, led by Daniel Loeb, has also put forward nominees for the Campbell board ahead of the manufacturer’s AGM later this month.
Campbell and Third Point have publicly criticised each other’s plans for the company. On Friday, Campbell interim president and CEO Keith McLoughlin revealed the soup maker had held talks with Third Point.
McLoughlin said Third Point had rejected an offer from Campbell to add to the manufacturer’s list of board nominees two from the fund’s slate.
Third Point has backed off from a bid to replace Campbell’s entire 12-person board at the annual meeting on 29 November. It has cut the size of its board slate to five nominees.
The fund, which owns 7% of Campbell’s shares, said today it was pleased the Prego sauces owner had “acknowledged changes to the board would be beneficial” but added it was “disappointed” the company had gone public with the fact the two sides were in talks.