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AdvancePierre Foods mulls sale for $2 billion or more, say sources-Reuters

(Reuters) – AdvancePierre Foods is interviewing investment banks to prepare for a sale that could value the private equity-owned protein and sandwich supplier at more than $2 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

AdvancePierre’s private equity owner, Oaktree Capital Group LLC (OAK.N), is meeting with banks this week in order to appoint financial advisors that will help with the company’s sale process, the people said.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Representatives for AdvancePierre and Oaktree did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Cincinnati, Ohio-based AdvancePierre manufactures packaged sandwiches, fully cooked and uncooked meat products and bakery items that are distributed to schools, universities, convenience stores, supermarkets and warehouse clubs. The company has more than 4,000 employees and generates annual revenue of $1.6 billion.

AdvancePierre Foods was formed in 2010 when Pierre Foods, which Oaktree acquired out of bankruptcy in 2008, merged with Advance Foods Co and Advance Brands LLC.

A sale of AdvancePierre would come amid a flurry of deals in the protein-rich meat and dairy sector, as large food companies look to expand their offerings amid increasing consumer interest for healthier options.

Recent high-profile deals in the sector in the last 12 months have included Post Holdings Inc’s (POST.N) $2.5 billion acquisition of food processing company Michael Foods and Tyson Foods Inc’s (TSN.N) $8.6 acquisition of packaged meats producer Hillshire Brands.