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Del Monte Foods in $4 billion buyout

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Del Monte Foods, the consumer and pet food company, agreed to be bought by an investor group for $4 billion, the company announced Friday.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Vestar Capital Partners and Centerview Partners will pay a premium price of $19 per share for the San Francisco-based company. The deal, which includes $1.3 billion in Del Monte's net debt, is valued at about $5.3 billion.

Del Monte (DLM) shares rose 4% to $18.75 on Friday after closing at $17.99 on Wednesday. U.S. financial markets were closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Under the terms of the deal, Del Monte is allowed to solicit alternative proposals through Jan. 8, 2011. The company said it will "actively" seek other suitors, but if no "superior offer" is found the deal announced Friday is expected to close by the end of March.

"This transaction will enable our Company to continue to successfully grow, building on the foundation our team has put into place," Richard Wolford, chief executive of Del Monte Foods, said in a statement.

Del Monte, which had sales of $3.7 billion in fiscal 2010, produces and distributes food under its own name and others, including S&W, Contadina and College Inn. It also has a large portfolio of pet foods such as Meow Mix, Kibbles 'n Bits and Milk-Bone.

Simon Brown, a member of KKR's consumer group, said in a statement that the firm looks forward to continuing Del Monte's "proven strategy for growth."

"Del Monte has a first-rate brand portfolio and excellent reputation for providing high quality and nutritious products to families and their pets," he said. To top of page

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