Advent laps up sauce maker Rao's, demonstrating demand for packaged foods

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Sovos Brands, backed by Advent International, has agreed to acquire pasta sauce producer Rao's Specialty Foods Inc. The deal does not include Rao's restaurant business. The transaction follows Advent's recent purchase of Michael Angelo's Gourmet Foods.

Rao's, founded in 1992, sells pasta sauces that are made without tomato blends, paste, water, starches, fillers, colors or added sugar. In addition, the target also sells dry pasta, dressings, marinades, olive oils, vinegars, tomatoes and fire-roasted red peppers.

"We see numerous opportunities to grow the Rao's Homemade brand and expand Rao's Specialty Foods into adjacent food categories," says Sovos CEO Todd Lachman. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Advent, founded in 1984, is a global private equity firm headquartered in Boston. The firm has approximately $40 billion in assets under management and has invested completed more than 315 private equity transactions. The firm targets its investments in five core industries, including: business services, healthcare, industrial, consumer products, financial services and technology, media and telecom.

Demand for packaged foods has been rising as consumers look to eat more at home. Benford Capital Partners purchased a majority stake in snacks manufacturer Saco Foods; Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Co. Ltd. bought packaged side dish producer Bellisio Foods; New Water Capital has acquired frozen entree maker Custom Made Meals.

Morgan Stanley and Morrison Foerster are advising Rao's. Weil Gotshal & Manges is representing Advent and Sovos.

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