Mars Food bites into Preferred Brands, maker of Asian cuisine Tasty Bite

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Mars Food has reached a deal to acquire a majority stake in Preferred Brands International, a maker of ready-to-heat Indian and Asian foods. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Stamford, Connecticut-based Preferred Brands manufactures “all natural” food products sold primarily under the Tasty Bite name. Tasty Bite makes a variety of vegetarian foods, including Thai entrée meals, noodles, spice and simmer meal kits, and organic rice and lentils. The target operates from its production facility in Pune, India, and distributes its products primarily in the U.S. The target also serves food manufacturers and quick service restaurants in the U.K., Australia and India.

Mars Food, a division of Mars Inc., has more than 11 manufacturing facilities. The Tasty Bite deal brings together two food businesses with a range of ready-to-eat and dry grain packaged products. Mars Food owns a plethora of well-known food brands, including: Uncle Ben’s, Dolmio, Seeds of Change, Masterfoods, Suzi Wan, Ebly, Royco, Kan Tong, and Raris. The Chicago-based parent company, Mars Inc., also makes candy, confectionery and pet food products. In January, Mars Inc. expanded its involvement into the pet care industry with the purchase of animal hospital chain VCA Inc.

Globalization has made international cuisine more popular. Food deals leveraging the trends include: Swander Pace Capital’s backing of Passport Food Group for its Wing Hing brand; Palladium Equity Partners’ investment in Hispanic food producer Del Real Foods; Findus Spain’s purchase of La Cocinera, a Barcelona, Spain-based maker of chilled-dough products, from Nestle; Diaz Foods’ acquiring La Cena Fine Foods Ltd., a manufacturer of Caribbean food brands pasta, drinks and condiments; Grey Mountain Partners’ purchase of Mediterranean food maker Kronos Foods Inc.; and Ajinomoto’s $800 million purchase of Windsor Quality Holdings LP, a maker of nacho bites and other appetizer frozen foods.

Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC (NYSE: MS) is serving as financial adviser to Mars Food. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is acting as legal adviser, and AZB & Partners is serving as India legal adviser. Tasty Bite was represented by Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), The Giannuzzi Group, and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas.

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