Taking Stock

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‘Round The Trade

We’re hearing that a Supervalu-Cerberus announcement is imminent and a deal of this magnitude would certainly eclipse any acquisition that took place in 2012. Last year, other than Bi-Lo Food’s (Lone Star Funds) acquisition of Winn-Dixie, Tesco’s year-end announcement it would shutter its Fresh & Easy division and Giant/Carlisle’s purchase of 15 Genuardi’s stores, there wasn’t much M&A activity. In the meantime, Supervalu has settled its “non-compete” case against Leon Bergmann, former president of the SVU’s independent business unit. The Eden Prairie, MN retailer/wholesaler filed suit against Bergmann, who left the company about two months ago, when it was later announced he would be joining California-based Unified Grocers, a competitor of Supervalu’s. But everything was worked out and Bergmann, who spent many years at C&S, is now free to ply his trade as senior VP-sales at the Commerce, CA-based wholesale co-op…back to Minnesota: I was surprised to hear of the departure of Christopher Brown (another Supervalu alumnus) as president and chief operating officer of Minneapolis based wholesaler Nash Finch. Brown was replaced by Kevin Elliott, who most recently was senior VP-merchandising, logistics and marketing at Dallas based 7-Eleven. Brown’s departure ends a long working relationship with Alec Covington, Nash Finch’s CEO, which began nearly 25 years ago. But sometimes long-term successful relationships run their course, necessitating change (ask Andy Reid). I spoke with Christopher late last month and he was upbeat about his future prospects, and why not? Brown is one of the most intelligent and tireless workers in the business and, given his track record and age (50), he will end up in a senior leadership position before too long…on the manufacturing front, ConAgra has agreed to acquire Ralcorp, giving the Omaha based packer one of the best-balanced portfolios of branded and private label products of any food manufacturer. The transaction is valued at approximately $6.8 billion, including the assumption of debt. The acquisition will create one of the largest packaged food companies in North America, with sales of approximately $18 billion annually. It will also position ConAgra Foods as the largest private label packaged food business in theU.S., with combined private label sales of approximately $4.5 billion. “The acquisition of Ralcorp is a logical and exciting step for ConAgra Foods. Adding Ralcorp provides us with a much larger presence in the attractive and growing private label segment and accelerates our ‘Recipe for Growth’ strategy,” Gary Rodkin, chief executive officer of ConAgra stated.