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TreeHouse Foods Said to Weigh Acquisition of Flagstone Foods

TreeHouse Foods Inc., the maker of private-label foods for retailers, is weighing an acquisition of Flagstone Foods, people familiar with the matter said.

TreeHouse and private-equity firms including Blackstone Group LP, Carlyle Group LP and Leonard Green & Partners LP made first-round offers in the $1 billion range and are considering whether to advance to the next round of bidding for the Minneapolis maker of dried fruits and nuts, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

TreeHouse has acquired at least six food companies in the past four years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In April, the Oakbrook, Illinois-based company agreed to buy Protenergy Natural Foods, a developer and maker of private-label soups and broths, to expand its offerings.

Gryphon Investors, the San Francisco private-equity owner of Flagstone, is working with Moelis & Co, Houlihan Lokey and Bank of Montreal to sell the business, people familiar with the situation said in March. A price of $1 billion implies about 12 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, the people said then.

A spokesman for TreeHouse declined to comment, as did spokesmen for Gryphon, Blackstone, Carlyle, Moelis and Houlihan Lokey. Representatives for Leonard Green and Bank of Montreal didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Gryphon bought Ann’s House of Nuts and Amport Foods and rolled the business into newly formed holding company Flagstone in 2010.

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