Canada’s Whitecastle seals $150m food exit

The firm will sell Protenergy to TreeHouse Foods alongside Kensington Capital Partners and BMO Capital Partners.  

Toronto-based Whitecastle Investments and affiliate Whitecap Venture Partners will sell Protenergy Natural Foods for $150 million, according to a statement.

Whitecastle is exiting the company alongside Kensington Capital Partners Limited and Canadian lender BMO Capital Partners. Protenergy is a maker of broth, soups and gravies, both for private label and corporate brands.The acquisition by TreeHouse Foods, which makes house-brand foods for retailers, will add soups, broths, and gravies to the line of food products TreeHouse offers. The transaction is expected to close late in the second quarter of 2014, and will be financed through borrowings under TreeHouse's existing credit facility.

Protenergy had 2013 sales of approximately $110 million for the twelve months ended 31 December 2013.  Following the acquisition, TreeHouse anticipates pro forma 2014 sales of approximately $2.7 billion and adjusted EBITDA of approximately $385 million.  TreeHouse was recently in the news for suing coffee company Green Mountain Roasters, alleging that Green Mountain had monopolised the market for K-cups, the single serve coffee pods.

Barclays is acting as financial advisor on the transaction. William Blair is serving as financial advisor to Protenergy and Whitecastle. 

In February, Whitecastle Investments Limited launched Whitecastle Private Equity Partners Fund LP, with more than $60 million of capital under management. That fund will invest in small to medium-sized enterprises across key private business sectors, primarily in Canada, but also in the northeastern United States.

The fund will target opportunities in business sectors, including health care services and products, financial services, and manufacturing, with investments ranging from $5 million to $25 million each, according to a statement. The fund's limited partners, comprising both Whitecastle Investments Limited and some of Canada's largest pension funds, may co-invest with the fund, significantly increasing the amount of capital available for a single transaction.