Hillshire Brands to buy Pinnacle Foods for $4.3 billion

Reuters reported today that the frozen food giant Hillshire Brands bought Pinnacle Food Inc. in a cash-and-stock deal that will establish Hillshire as the owner of 10 brands that are either No. 1 or No. 2 in their category. The deal, Hillshire's third in the past year, is part of the company's plan to move from the freezer into American grocery stores' center aisles. 

Pinnacle's brands include Mrs. Paul's frozen seafood, Wish-Bone salad dressing and Log Cabin syrup. Pinnacle's debt stood at about $2.5 billion as of December 29, according to Reuters. Including debt, the deal is valued at $6.6 billion. After September, when the deal closes, Pinnacle shareholders will own about one third of the combined company. 

In the Reuters report, a Hillshire spokesperson said the company expects the deal to generate $140 million in annual cost savings within three years, and to immediately add to earnings. Hillshire agreed to a payment of $18 in cash for each Pinnacle Foods share plus 0.5 shares of Hillshire Brands stock, a total about 20 percent higher than Pinnacle's closing price on May 9.

"The acquisition creates a leading branded food company with enhanced scale, reach and capabilities, while providing margin expansion and growth in earnings per share," Sean Connolly, CEO of Hillshire Brands, said in a press release.

The companies will face an enormous transition from now until September. Both companies have already retained the services of consulting agencies in order to provide outside perspective and industry expertise during the period. Consultants can be invaluable in facilitating large-scale organizational changes, and can help both parties feel confident in merger decisions. Consultants are also integral in combining vendor management, as well as recruiting and training a workforce to coordinate the transition.