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Snyder’s Said in Talks to Sell Vista for as Much as $350 Million

Snyder’s-Lance Inc., the maker of Cape Cod potato chips, is in talks to sell Vista, its private-label cookies and crackers business, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

The sale of the unit, which may fetch as much as $350 million, could be final by the end of the year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. Charlotte, North Carolina-based Snyder’s has hired Bank of America Corp. to manage the sale and has attracted interest from ConAgra Foods Inc., TreeHouse Foods Inc. and Ralcorp Holdings Inc., two of the people said.

Snyder’s is selling the private-label foods business as it focuses more on building its branded snacks business, one of the people said. The company has been acquiring brand-name businesses and could use proceeds from a sale to buy additional brands or invest in its existing snack lines, this person said.

Vista has annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of around $40 million, said one of these people. Snyder’s is in the second round of the sales process, this person added.

Andrea Bartman, a spokeswoman for Snyder’s, couldn’t immediately comment. Teresa Paulsen, a spokeswoman for ConAgra, declined to comment. P.I. Aquino, a spokeswoman for TreeHouse, and Matt Pudlowski, a spokesman for Ralcorp, didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Pretzels, Chips

Snyder’s third-quarter net income more than doubled to $17.8 million, while sales fell 3.6 percent to $406.6 million, the company said Nov. 7. Chief Executive Officer David Singer said at the time that core brands such as Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzels and Cape Cod chips drove growth and branded sales continue to be a priority this year. The company doesn’t break out private-label sales.

Last month, Snyder’s acquired Snack Factory, which makes Pretzel Crisps brand snacks, for $340 million.

For its part, Omaha, Nebraska-based ConAgra has been acquiring both branded food companies and adding to its private-label business. St. Louis-based Ralcorp and Oak Brook, Illinois-based TreeHouse are primarily private-label food producers.

Snyder’s-Lance was formed in 2010 with the merger of Snyder’s of Hanover Inc. and Lance Inc. to improve distribution of the companies’ snacks.

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