Conagra Brands Inc. (NYSE: CG) is buying frozen food maker Pinnacle Foods Inc. (NYSE: PF) for $10.9 billion. Frozen Foods has been Conagra’s fastest growing division and with Pinnacle, Conagra will add the Birds Eye, Hungry-Man TV, Celeste pizza and Mrs. Paul’s fish brands. Packaged foods are popular, as consumers seek cheaper and more convenient food options. Conagra has been busy reshaping its portfolio to focus on higher-growing business lines since Sean Connolly took cover as CEO in 2015. “After three years of transformative work to create a pure-play, branded food company, we are well-positioned to accelerate the next wave of change,” says Connolly. Some of Conagra’s deals include the purchases of snack producers Angie’s Artisan Treats and Thanasi Foods. Conagra owns the Hunt’s tomato sauce, Reddi-wip whipped cream, and Hebrew National hot dog brands. Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), Centerview Partners and Jones Day are advising Conagra. Evercore (NYSE: EVR), Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Rothschild & Co. and Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP are advising Pinnacle. Fried Frank is representing Evercore. Read the full story from Bloomberg News: Conagra creates frozen food giant with Pinnacle deal.

Middle-market executives are more optimistic about the health of their businesses and growth prospects more than any time in the last three years, according to a survey conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of CIT Group Inc. (NYSE: CIT). “Middle market companies are important contributors to a healthy economy,” says Jim Hudak, president of CIT’s commercial finance division. “We are encouraged by survey results showing that a large majority of middle market leaders expect their companies will grow and invest in the year ahead.” The survey found that 84 percent of mid-market executives feel that the health of their companies are strong; 77 percent saw a rise in sales; and 71 percent feel good about the current state of the national economy.

Deal news
Staples Inc. has acquired HiTouch Business Services, an independent office products dealer. The target has joined Staples Business Advantage division. Staples CEO Sandy Douglas has not ruled out making similar acquisitions. “We will continue to look for strategic opportunities like this one where we feel we can help create better options for businesses in the marketplace,” Douglas said in a statement.

Differential Brands Group Inc. (Nasdaq: DFBG) is buying the North American licensing business from Global Brands Group Holding Ltd. for $1.38 billion. The licensed brands for apparel and accessories include: Disney, Star Wars, Calvin Klein, Under Armour, Tommy Hilfiger, BCBG, bebe, Joe’s, Buffalo David Bitton, Frye, Michael Kors, Cole Haan and Kenneth Cole. Dechert and Richards, Layton and Finger are advising the buyer. Goldman Sachs, Reed Smith and Freshfields are advising the seller.

Montagu Private Equity has bought Wireless Logic Group from CVC Capital Partners. Wireless Logic provides Internet of Things and machine-to-machine services to mobile, satellite and fixed line networks. WIlliam Blair, Deloitte and Fried Frank advised CVC. Arma Partners, Morgan Stanley and Freshfields advised Montagu.

Healthcare-focused investment firm CRG has raised $204 million in asset-backed financing for its third fund, bringing the fund’s total long-term leverage to $559 million. The firm invests up to $300 million across the medical devices, pharmaceuticals and information technology industries. Goldman Sachs was CRG’s placement agent.

Featured content
Today’s portfolio companies choose private equity funds “based on not just who’s going to pay them the most money, but who’s going to be more involved in helping them get to that next step, helping them to execute the strategy,” says BDO USA’s Bob Pearlman in this video interview shot at ACG InterGrowth 2018. Watch the full video: PE firms take a more strategic approach to portfolio companies than in the past.

“Clamoring to be the loudest person in the room” is not the way to bring more women into the middle market, says Suzie Doran of SingerLewak, in this video interview shot at ACG InterGrowth 2018. Doran serves as president of ACG Los Angeles, which recently took the Women of ACG Los Angeles on a private viewing of the 100th Anniversary Exhibition of King Tut at the California Science Center. “We’re about making connections and being able to take those connections to the next level.” Watch the full video: No “clamoring to be the loudest person in the room” at women dealmaker events.

More than 2,000 dealmakers from 1,100 companies, representing 16 countries, headed to sunny San Diego for three days of networking at ACG InterGrowth 2018. Jeff Immelt, who served as CEO and chairman of General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) from 2001 to 2017, was the keynote speaker. Check out our slideshow: InterGrowth 2018 in pictures.

Peter Van Raalte, co-founder of Corinthian Capital, and Mary Kathleen Flynn, editor-in-chief of Mergers & Acquisitions, were featured speakers at the ACG NY Industrial Conference at the New York Athletic Club. The conference is part of the ACG Northeast Industry Tour, sponsored by ACG New York, ACG Boston and ACG Philadelphia. View our slideshow: Manufacturing M&A: high prices but plenty of opportunities.

From stories of star athletes Arnold Palmer, Keith Hernandez and Tiger Woods to advice from entrepreneurs Bridgewater AssociatesRay Dalio, KPCB’s John Doerr, Nike’s Phil Knight and Brava Investments’Nathalie Molina Niño, plus strategies to help business leaders in general, and female dealmakers in particular, the 15 books on Mergers & Acquisitions’ summer reading list entertain, instruct and inspire. Check out our listicle: Dealmaker’s guide to summer reading: 15 new books.

Read full coverage of Mergers & Acquisitions’ 11th annual M&A Mid-Market Award winners: Campbell Soup, Huron Capital, Idera CEO Randy Jacops, LLR Partners, McGuireWoods, Stryker, Twin Brook and William Blair.