Tyson to sell Sara Lee, Van’s to Kohlberg & Company

Tyson Foods has entered into an agreement to sell its Sara Lee Frozen Bakery and Van’s businesses to private equity firm Kohlberg & Company, the company announced.

Keith Homan, Bigstock
Keith Homan, Bigstock

Tyson Foods has entered into an agreement to sell its Sara Lee Frozen Bakery and Van’s businesses to private equity firm Kohlberg & Company.

The sale includes the Chef Pierre, Bistro Collection and Van’s brands, and a license to use the Sara Lee brand in certain channels. The deal also includes the sale of the company’s Tarboro, North Carolina, and Traverse City, Michigan, prepared foods facilities and a sales office in Canada. The 1,160 team members employed at the two facilities and sales office are expected to keep their positions with the new company.

“These are great assets with outstanding team members; however, we’re focused on expanding Tyson Foods’ leadership position in protein,” said 

Sally Grimes, group president, Prepared Foods.  “We believe these brands and facilities will do well as part of Kohlberg, which has extensive experience buying and growing businesses.”

With the planned divestiture of the two business, Tyson Foods is following through with its plans to sell all non-protein business, an announcement it made in April 2017. The company earlier divested of Kettle, a maker of sauces, dips, soups and side dishes, for $125 million, but did not disclose the identity of the buyer. That transaction closed at the conclusion of 2017.

Kohlberg is partnering with 

C.J. Fraleigh, who will join as Executive Chairman at closing. Fraleigh, a long-time consumer products executive with over 30 years of experience, previously served as CEO of Sara Lee – North America.

“I’m very excited to be joining the team,” commented Fraleigh. “With established and iconic brands, including Sara Lee, Chef Pierre, Bistro Collection, and Van’s, this business is well-positioned to continue its historical growth trajectory.  I look forward to working with the company’s employees to execute on growth opportunities we’ve identified and continue providing customers with excellent service, innovation and consistently high quality products.”

Seth Hollander, Partner of Kohlberg, stated, “Kohlberg’s partnership with C.J., along with our depth of experience with food investments, creates an excellent opportunity to drive growth and value creation for all stakeholders.”  

The terms of the agreement are not being disclosed. Rothschild & Co is acting as Tyson Foods’ financial advisor on the sale.


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