Campbell Soup Company announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Kelsen Group A/S from Maj Invest, a private equity firm, and several other investors.
Based in Nørre Snede, Denmark, Kelsen is a producer of quality baked snacks that are sold in 85 countries around the world. Its primary brands include Kjeldsens and Royal Dansk. Kelsen has established distribution networks in markets in Asia, South America, the Middle East and Africa as well as the United States. It is a market leader in the assortment segment of the sweet biscuits category in China and Hong Kong, where growth in sweet biscuits is outpacing the growth of the $60 billion global sweet biscuits market.
Kelsen has been exporting premium Danish butter cookies to China for more than 20 years. Its Kjeldsens brand has strong awareness with retailers and consumers in major cities, and its sales in China have grown at a compound rate exceeding 28% in the last three years. The company generated DKK 1.043 billion ($180 million) in net sales for the year ended Dec. 31, 2012. Aggregate net sales have grown at a compound double-digit rate since 2009. Kelsen employs 366 people worldwide.
Denise Morrison, Campbell’s president and CEO, said, “We are delighted to welcome the Kelsen team to Campbell and to add Kelsen’s distinctive brands to Campbell’s outstanding portfolio of baked snacks, including our Pepperidge Farm cookies and crackers in North America and Arnott’s biscuits in Australia. Kelsen will give Campbell a solid platform for growth in baked snacks in China and for the expansion of our international footprint. The acquisition of this successful business is another important step in Campbell’s quest to delight new consumers through expansion into higher-growth spaces, including fast-growing emerging markets.”
Campbell plans to operate Kelsen as a standalone business based in Denmark, reporting to Luca Mignini, president – Campbell International. Mignini said, “Kelsen’s combination with Campbell will represent a wonderful marriage of complementary skills and capabilities. Its strong position in China and Hong Kong will enhance our presence in the region. At the same time, Kelsen’s talented management team will have the opportunity to leverage Campbell’s marketing, consumer insights, and supply chain expertise to grow the business in both new and existing markets.”
Brian Rønsholdt, CEO of Kelsen Group, said, “Kelsen has been providing quality products to consumers for over 75 years. We look forward to joining Campbell and its family of trusted brands. Campbell’s consumer-focused capabilities and wide-ranging experience in biscuit production will provide new resources for enhancing Kelsen’s product lines and strengthening our engagement with consumers around the world.”
The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Closing is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary conditions. Campbell expects the acquisition to be modestly accretive beginning in 2014. Bruun & Hjejle in Denmark and King & Wood Mallesons in Hong Kong served as Campbell’s legal counsel. Maj Invest and Kelsen investors were advised by FIH Partners and Kromann Reumert served as legal counsel.