Butterfly Equity operating partner named as potential bidder in Campbell Soup divestiture

  • Jeff Dunn, ex-CEO Campbell’s fresh-foods unit, joined Butterfly last year
  • WSJ named Dunn as a potential bidder for Campbell unit
  • Butterfly raising debut fund

As Butterfly Equity, a food-focused PE firm, closes in on its debut fund, one of the firm’s operating partners is also in the lead to buy the fresh-foods business of Campbell Soup Co.

Butterfly has raised at least $174 million, and likely much more, for its first fund, called Butterfly II.

The pool has a $400 million target, Buyouts has reported. Butterfly invests in agriculture and aquaculture, food and beverages, distribution and food service.

Jeff Dunn, an operating partner at Butterfly, is reportedly one of the main potential bidders for the Campbell unit, which includes Bolthouse Farms, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month. The company in August said it intended to sell the unit.

The unit could sell for $500 million to $700 million, WSJ said.

Dunn was CEO of Bolthouse and helped sell it to Campbell for $1.55 billion in 2012, WSJ said. He also led Campbell’s fresh-foods unit for two years before stepping down in 2016. Dunn joined Butterfly last year.

Dunn, who earlier was an executive at Coca-Cola, spent a year leading one of the more memorable Silicon Valley implosions, Juicero.

The company, which raised $170 million in startup money, sold a $400 juicing machine that was proved to be unnecessary as consumers could simply squeeze the company’s juice packets with their hands.

“Campbell Fresh consists of great brands, and we expect a number of potential buyers to be interested,” said Thomas Hushen, spokesman with Campbell. Hushen declined to comment further.

Butterfly was formed in 2015 by Dustin Beck, an ex-Vista Equity Partners executive, and Adam Waglay, a former principal at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

The firm made several investments, including in Modern Market, a farm-to-table fast-casual restaurant business; and Pacifico Aquaculture, which produces ocean-raised striped bass.

The firm also invested alongside KKR in Lemonade Restaurant Group, a Los Angeles-based fast-casual restaurant chain serving seasonal California cuisine.

A spokesman for Butterfly declined to comment.

Action Item: Read Butterfly’s Form ADV here: https://bit.ly/2QFX2iR