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Blackstone Said to Prepare Pinnacle Foods Business for IPO

Private-equity firm Blackstone Group LP has interviewed banks to handle an initial public offering of Pinnacle Foods Group LLC, said three people with knowledge of the situation.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Barclays Plc, Credit Suisse Group AG and Bank of America Corp. are among the banks that were interviewed, said the people, who declined to be named because the process is private. New York-based Blackstone wants to take Pinnacle public in the next two quarters, said one of the people. An IPO would value Pinnacle, which distributes brands including Hungry Man frozen dinners and Birds Eye frozen vegetables, at $4 billion to $5 billion, one of the people said.

The Pinnacle share sale would add to a growing list of food stocks that will come to market this year. Both Northfield, Illinois-based Kraft Foods Inc. and Downers Grove, Illinois-based Sara Lee Corp. plan to split off businesses in 2012, creating two new public companies.

Christine Anderson, a spokeswoman for Blackstone, declined to comment. Voice and e-mail messages to Pinnacle’s media relations department weren’t returned. Andrea Raphael, a spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs, and Victoria Harmon, a spokeswoman for Credit Suisse, declined to comment. Spokesmen for Bank of America and Barclays declined to comment.

Blackstone bought Parsippany, New Jersey-based Pinnacle for $2.2 billion in 2007 and added Birds Eye Foods Inc. in 2009 for $1.3 billion.

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