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Campbell to pay $1.5B for Calif. food distributor

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Campbell Soup Co., in Camden, today announced it will buy natural food and beverage distributor Bolthouse Farms Inc., in Bakersfield, Calif., from private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners LLC for $1.55 billion in cash to expand its presence in the packaged fresh-food market.

According to Campbell, the acquisition of Bolthouse's beverages will complement its V8 juices business and create one of the largest health beverage platforms in the United States, with expected annual sales of about $1.2 billion.

Campbell expects to close the sale by late summer, and increase 2013 earnings by 5 to 7 cents per share.

For fiscal year 2012, Bolthouse reported $92 million in earnings before interest and taxes and $689 million in sales, with an annual net sales growth of 7 percent. The company employs about 2,100 workers.

In a statement, Campbell President and CEO Denise Morrison said Bolthouse is "a great strategic fit with Campbell … and offers exciting opportunities for expansion into adjacent packaged fresh segments that respond directly to powerful consumer trends."

Campbell will operate Bolthouse as a separate business unit. Bolthouse President and CEO Jeff Dunn will remain with the company.

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