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A South Korean food giant may be trying to acquire Minnesota-based Schwan’s, according to recent reports from a Korean business news website and elsewhere.
CJ CheilJedang, a subsidiary of CJ Group, recently took part in a preliminary bidding process to acquire a U.S. food company for an estimated $2.8 billion, according to a report posted by The Investor, an English-language business news service in South Korea. In a regulatory filing CheilJedang said: “We are considering acquiring a U.S. food processing company as part of our business expansion overseas but nothing has been decided yet,” according to The Investor.
The publication also reported that Charoen Pokphand Foods, of Thailand, took part in the bidding process. Charoen Pokphand Foods bought Minneapolis-based Bellisio Foods for $1.08 billion in 2016.
Schwan’s, which has been aggressively promoting a new dessert shop in Downtown Minneapolis, has declined comment on its future.
In December, CNBC reported that Schwan’s had hired investment bank Piper Jaffray to look at options including a potential sale of the company.
Sources say privately held Schwan’s could be worth up to $2.8 billion.
Schwan’s, founded in 1953 in Marshal, is estimated to have posted flat-to-slightly down 2017 sales of around $3 billion. It is among Minnesota’s largest privately held companies.
The company, which operates is corporate headquarters from Bloomington, has grown to include home delivery of ice cream and frozen foods, as well as pizza brands such as Tony’s, Freschetta and Red Baron Pizza, Mrs. Smith’s pies and Edwards desserts.
The Star Tribune reported recently that Schwan’s also faces increased competition from online-meal kit and grocery-delivery businesses. It’s also had to adjust to changing consumer preferences for fresh foods.
In 2016, Schwan’s reported $3 billion in sales, the Business Journal said. That figure was down from 2014, when the company reported $3.15 billion in sales. Schwan’s is Minnesota’s 10th-largest privately held company, and employs 12,00 people, the Business Journal reported.
An acquisition of Schwan’s by CJ Group would diversify its product portfolio and retail network in the U.S., The Investor reported. It’s flagship Cheiljedang business, with U.S. operations based in Los Angeles, makes soy sauces, oils, prepared foods and ingredients and includes Korean brands such as Bibigo and Dasida. It also manufactures Spam in South Korea, under agreement with Minnesota-based Hormel.