M&A wrap: Campbell, Bolthouse Farms, Garden Fresh Gourmet, Denise Morrison

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Campbell Soup Co. (NYSE: CPB) has hired Goldman Sachs (NYSE; GS) and Centerview Partners to divest its Campbell International and Campbell Fresh businesses, including the Arnott's, Bolthouse Farms and Garden Fresh Gourmet brands. The company has been reviewing operations since the abrupt departure of CEO Denise Morrison in May and will use the sale proceeds to reduce debt. “Campbell’s board of directors considered a full slate of strategic options, including optimizing the portfolio, divesting businesses, splitting the company, and pursuing a sale," says Campbell interim CEO Keith McCloughlin. Campbell has been under pressure from activist investor Dan Loeb to find a buyer amid a three-year sales slump and a sliding stock price, Bloomberg News reports. Instead, the company will pursue a turnaround plan to ignite soup and snack growth in its key U.S. market. Campbell has struggled with declining sales in recent years as consumers seeking out less-processed products turn away from its namesake soup. A push to add healthier brands to its portfolio with the acquisition of Bolthouse Farms had been hampered by operational issues. Campbell, which won Mergers & Acquisitions’ M&A Mid-Market Award for 2017 Strategic Buyer of the Year, has been leveraging acquisitions to ensure the company known for comfort food for nearly 150 years remains relevant to millennials and future generations. Campbell recently closed two significant deals: the $4.8 billion acquisition of pretzel marker Snyder’s-Lance; and the $700 million purchase of organic soup maker Pacific Foods. Read the full story: Campbell to sell non-core brands, including Bolthouse Farms.

The energy industry is teeming with M&A activity, as companies seek to improve operations. Hubbell and Ingersoll Rand are among the strategic buyers. Private equity firms acquiring include AE Industrial Partners, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and Genstar Capital. Companies in the energy industry are focused on improving operational efficiencies and analytical capabilities. The issues are urgent for oil and gas companies, because depressed prices mean profits are hard to come by, says Caroline Blitzer Phillips, who advises clients on energy deals as a partner at law firm Vinson & Elkins. They are also essential for renewable energy, which “has been quite expensive in some cases, because the infrastructure is not in place.” From providers of “smart grids” to developers of energy management software, Mergers & Acquisitions looks at recently acquired targets. Read the full story: 14 smart energy deals.

Deal news
Stryker Corp. (NYSE: SYK) is acquiring K2M Group Holdings (Nasdaq: KTWO), a maker of medical devices for spines, for $1.4 billion. "This acquisition underscores our commitment to the spinal market, which is the largest segment of orthopaedics with significant unmet needs,” says Stryker CEO Kevin Lobo. Piper Jaffray & Co. (NYSE: PJC) and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP are advising K2M.

GTCR-backed Mega Broadband Investments is buying Northland Communications. The target provides high-speed data, television, and voice services to residential and business subscribers in rural markets. Kirkland & Ellis LLP and PricewaterhouseCoopers are advising GTCR. Perkins Coie LLP is advising Northland.

Moody's Corp. (NYSE: MCO) is purchasing real estate data company Reis Inc. (Nasdaq: REIS) for $278 million. Reis offers data, analysis and forecasts on 275 metropolitan markets and 7,700 submarkets. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is representing Moody's. Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP and Canaccord Genuity are advising Reis.

News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWS) is acquiring Opcity, a real estate technology platform that matches qualified home buyers and sellers with real estate professionals in real time. The purchase price is $210 million. News Corp. is making the acquisition through its Realtor.com subsidiary.

Summit Partners has made a growth equity investment in OnRobot, a provider of technologies used in robot systems. For more on M&A trends in robotics, read: Robotics developers are ripe for investment, says Innovation Works CEO Rich Lunak.

People Moves
Sandy Demitroff has been named CEO at Millpond Equity Partners-backed BrandRep Inc., a provider of digital marketing services to small and medium sized businesses. Demitroff was most recently a managing director at WPP.

James Fox has joined law firm Appleby as a partner. Fox was previously with Shepherd and Wedderburn and Dundas & Wilson, and he focuses on secondary fundraisings and regulatory compliance.

Featured content
Mergers & Acquisitions has announced 11 Rising Stars of Private Equity, including John Kos, GTCR; Ethan Liebermann, TA Associates; Jennifer Roach, Yellow Wood Partners; and Afaf Ibraheem Warren, Siris Capital . The up-and-coming investors are expected to play significant leadership roles in the future. See: Meet Mergers & Acquisitions' 11 Rising Stars of Private Equity.

PepsiCo’s announced $3.2 billion acquisition of SodaStream is the latest in a wave of deal activity in the packaged food sector. This robust M&A environment should continue over the next 12 to 18 months as companies look to become more agile and tap into consumer trends like “better for you” foods and snacking, while also looking to improve capabilities such as digital marketing. Read the full story: PepsiCo's SodaStream deal augurs more food & beverage M&A.

As Indra Nooyi ends her 12-year run in the top job at PepsiCo Inc. (Nasdaq: PEP), the number of women CEOs in the S&P 500 drops to 24. But in the middle market, a growing movement is nurturing women-led companies. For example, Lorine Pendleton, a member of Pipeline Angels, focuses on inclusion investing, backing companies led by diverse entrepreneurs. Read the full story: Inclusion investing nurtures companies led by women and minorities.

Exponent, a new group of women dealmakers, brought together 200 women from private equity funds, investment banks, startups and M&A advisory firms for the Exponent Exchange, featuring Sallie Krawcheck as the keynote speaker. Previously the CEO of Wall Street banks, including Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and Citi Private Bank, Krawcheck serves as the CEO of Ellevest, an online investing platform for women. Mergers & Acquisitions participated as an in-kind sponsor, and editor-in-chief Mary Kathleen Flynn moderated a panel. Check out our slideshow, Exponent drew 200 women dealmakers to event featuring Sallie Krawcheck.

While some of the firms that were instrumental in launching the middle market back in the 1980s and 1990s have long since been shuttered, their legacy lives on. They proved to be excellent training grounds for many successful dealmakers. Heller Financial certainly belongs in this category, and Mergers & Acquisitions featured its alumni a few years ago. Another firm with a far reach is Holleb & Coff, a Chicago law firm that closed in 2000, after a nearly 50-year run. Founded by Marshall Holleb and Morris Coff in 1951, the firm advised prestigious clients, such as American National Bank, Hollinger International Inc.and LaSalle Bank. Revenue topped $40 million in 1997. In its heyday, Holleb & Coff employed 130-plus attorneys; it was the law firm to work for in the Midwest. Drawn to the supportive culture, new associates and seasoned partners alike enjoyed working at the venerated firm. Many of the lawyers who worked at Holleb & Coff back in the day are making a significant impact on M&A today, including: John Corvino, general counsel to the Chicago White Sox; · Brian Kerwin, chair of Duane Morris’ global corporate practice; Theodore (Ted) Koenig, the founder and CEO of Monroe Capital; Kenneth Serota, president of Hu-Friedy Manufacturing Co., and Michelle Warner, general counsel, USG Corp. (NYSE: US). Read the full story: Holleb & Coff alumni: Where are they now?

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