Centre Partners seeks buyer for Bellisio Foods

Centre Partners Management LLC may be nearing an exit of Bellisio Foods Inc.

The buyout shop is selling Bellisio, which makes Atkins frozen entrees and Michelina’s frozen foods, to a strategic, sources said.

It’s unclear who the buyer is but private equity is apparently out of the auction, one of the sources said. Bloomberg reported in September that Nomad and Pinnacle Foods were interested in Bellisio. Morgan Stanley and Moelis are advising on the auction, sources said.

The company produces about $85 million EBITDA and could sell for around $800 million, Bloomberg said.

Bellisio, Minneapolis, represents a near five-year hold for Centre Partners, which bought the company in December 2011. Terms weren’t disclosed. Jeno Paulucci, Bellisio’s founder, was the seller.

In 2013, Bellisio acquired Overhill Farms for $81 million and Austin Packaging for more than $6 million in separate deals. Bellisio produced $588 million in revenue for the year ended Jan. 3, 2016, Moody’s Investors Service said.

Founded in 1986, Centre Partners invests mainly in healthcare and consumer companies with $5 million to $40 million EBITDA. Centre, with offices in New York and Los Angeles, will invest $10 million to $50 million in a portfolio company but, with LPs and other co-investors, has provided up to $200 million of equity, the firm’s website said.

The firm used its fifth fund to invest in Bellisio. Centre Partners’ Fund V raised $650 million in 2007, Preqin said. It’s unclear how much the firm’s sixth pool, which had a $500 million target and closed in March, collected, Preqin said.

Moelis declined comment. Bellisio, Morgan Stanley and Centre Partners could not be reached for comment.

Action Item: At Centre Partners, email Bruce Pollack, a managing partner, at bpollack@centrepartners.com

Photo courtesy of Bellisio.