Reckitt Foods Sale Is Said to Be Likely to Attract Post, Conagra

  • Smucker, Campbell and Pinnacle may also consider buying unit
  • Private equity firms could also make offers for the business

Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc’s sale of its food business could attract interest from companies including Post Holdings Inc. and Conagra Brands Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

The sale of the business may begin as early as this month, the people said, asking not to be identified as details aren’t public. J.M. Smucker Co., Campbell Soup Co., Pinnacle Foods Inc. and Ajinomoto Co. may also be interested, they said. The French’s mustard maker could be valued at about $3 billion, one of the people said.

Reckitt said in April it will begin a review and consider all options for the business, which it called “non-core”. French’s Foods accounts for 4 percent of the group’s total revenue, with 411 million pounds ($531 million) in sales last year. A sale could help pay for Reckitt’s $16.6 billion purchase of infant-formula maker Mead Johnson Nutrition Co., announced in February.

Private equity firms may also bid, the people said. Morgan Stanley is advising on the sale, they said.

Paul Polman, chief executive officer of rival household product giant Unilever, said in April he would take a look at the unit as well. Unilever agreed last month to buy Sir Kensington’s, an upstart food company in the U.S. that makes natural and non-GMO ketchup and egg-free mayonnaise.

Representatives for Reckitt, Smucker, Pinnacle, Campbell, Conagra and Morgan Stanley declined to comment. Post and Ajinomoto didn’t immediately respond to requests.

— With assistance by Craig Giammona, and Thomas Buckley

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