Maple Leaf Foods Inc. announced Oct. 2 that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire VIAU Foods, a Canadian market leader in premium Italian cooked, dry-cured and charcuterie meats for a purchase price of CA$215 million (US$168 million), including $30 million in Maple Leaf stock. With sales of CA$180 million over the last twelve months, the transaction is expected to be accretive to Maple Leaf's earnings per share in the first year and to the Company's margin expansion over time.

"VIAU brings a portfolio of leading brands, a reputation for innovation and quality, skilled management and people, and excellent manufacturing assets," said Michael McCain, President and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods. "This acquisition expands Maple Leaf's position in the growing market for premium dry cured and pepperoni meat products and provides further production capacity in Quebec, an important strategic base to grow both Canadian and U.S. sales. It also enables VIAU to expand its portfolio to include raised without antibiotic products, leveraging Maple Leaf's leadership in this growing market."

"It is with great pride that we join the Maple Leaf family," said Pat De Marco, President and COO of VIAU. "Our quality and food safety culture fits perfectly with Maple Leaf, the company that, for years, we have regarded as the Canadian industry leader. The resources that Maple Leaf brings will allow us to more quickly grow our business, provide additional product offerings to our customers, make further inroads into the U.S. market, and provide more opportunities to our people. We are truly excited about the future possibilities."

Established in 1977, VIAU produces a range of value-added prepared meat products including Italian cooked meats, sausages, pizza toppings, shaved steak and meatballs, and is the Canadian market leader in cooked and dry-cured pepperoni. It also produces a range of gourmet deli and premium charcuterie products including salametti, capicollo, pancetta and sliced chorizo. VIAU is a leading supplier of dried pepperoni and other pizza toppings to the North American foodservice industry and markets its products through retailers across Canada.

The company employs 470 people at its two Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Safe Quality Food (SQF) accredited facilities in Laval and Montreal. It follows leading food safety practices, supported by an on-site ISO accredited laboratory. The business will continue to be led by the current highly experienced management team.

The transaction will be financed through a combination of cash-on-hand and drawings under Maple Leaf's existing credit facility and is expected to close in December, subject to regulatory review.