PITTSBURGH & CHICAGO — The Kraft Heinz Company announced Tuesday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its Natural, Grated, Cultured and Specialty cheese businesses to a U.S. affiliate of Groupe Lactalis for a purchase price of $3.2 billion. The proposed transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2021, subject to regulatory review and approval.
Groupe Lactalis, the world's leading dairy group, is a French-family business founded in 1933 in Laval, France. Present in 51 countries, with 266 dairies and cheese dairies throughout the world, its 85,000 employees promote milk in all its forms: cheese, drinking milk, yogurts, butters and creams, dairy ingredients and nutrition.
The transaction includes Kraft Heinz’s Natural, Grated, Cultured and Specialty cheese businesses in the U.S., Grated cheese business in Canada, and the entire International Cheese business outside these two countries, including the following brands: Breakstone’s, Knudsen, Polly-O, Athenos, Hoffman’s, Cracker Barrel in the U.S. only, and outside the U.S. and Canada only, Cheez Whiz.
In addition, Kraft Heinz will partner with Groupe Lactalis on a perpetual license for Kraft in Natural, Grated and International cheeses and Velveeta in Shredded and International cheeses.
Kraft Heinz will retain the Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Kraft Singles, Velveeta Processed Cheese and Cheez Whiz Processed Cheese businesses in the U.S. and Canada, the Kraft, Velveeta and Cracker Barrel Mac & Cheese businesses worldwide, and the Kraft Sauces business worldwide.
“We believe these cheese and dairy businesses will thrive in the hands of a global dairy company like Groupe Lactalis,” Kraft Heinz CEO Miguel Patricio said. “At the same time, the transaction will enable us to build sustainable competitive advantage in businesses where we have stronger brand equity, greater growth prospects and can use our manufacturing scale and consumer-based platforms approach. This is a great example of agile portfolio management at work.”
As outlined in the new Kraft Heinz operating model announced earlier Tuesday, platform roles will help guide resource allocation and investment decisions. Kraft Heinz will focus on growth areas and take strategic action where appropriate. This will help to accrete the Company’s growth profile, enhance strategic focus, and create shareholder value.
Under the terms of the agreement, Kraft Heinz will sell production facilities located in Tulare, Calif.; Walton, N.Y.; and Wausau, Wis., and a distribution center in Weyauwega, Wis. These facilities and their employees will continue to operate in ordinary course. Approximately 750 employees will be transferred from Kraft Heinz to Groupe Lactalis.
The cheese businesses being sold contributed approximately $1.8 billion USD to Kraft Heinz’s net sales for the twelve months ended June 27, 2020. The transaction valuation represents an approximate 12x multiple of LTM Adjusted EBITDA(1) for the standalone business. Kraft Heinz expects to use post-tax transaction proceeds primarily to pay down debt.
RBC Capital Markets, LLC served as exclusive financial advisor to Kraft Heinz for this transaction, while Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP served as their legal advisors.