Exclusive: Linsalata In Talks With Eatem Corp.

Linsalata Capital Partners is hungry to expand its holdings in the food industry.

Executives at that firm are in talks to buy Eatem Corporation, a Vineland, N.J.-based company that makes bases and concentrates used in soups and other food products, according to a regulatory filing.

If the deal proceeds, the Mayfield Heights, Ohio-based buyout shop will make the investment out of its latest fund, Linsalata Capital Partners Fund V LP, according to the filing. The firm closed the $425 million pool of capital in 2005.

Founded in 1983, Eatem, which does business as Eatem Foods, makes products including beef and chicken bases, kosher bases, seafood bases and vegetarian bases used in soups, sauces and other foods. The company touts itself as a pioneer of low-sodium, meat-first bases and vegetarian, organic and kosher bases, according to its Web site.

After mounting a three-year research effort, Linsalata Capital entered the food market in September 2008, buying Hospitality Mints Inc., a Boone, N.C.-based company that makes promotional mints and candies. At the time of that deal, Linsalata Capital Senior Managing Director Eric Bacon told Buyouts the firm was looking for deals in private label (store-brand) food, niche branded food, and companies that provide food-related services to schools and hospitals. In December 2009 the firm agreed to by Spartan Foods of America, a Spartanburg, S.C.-based company that makes pizza crust and pancakes sold in grocery stores under the names Mama Mary’s and Mystic Pizza, from a group of investors including Azalea Capital, CapitalSouth Partners and Harbinger Mezzanine Partners LP.

The prospective sellers of Eatem are listed in the filing as James J. Gervato, the company’s director of sales and marketing, and Robert G. Buono, Sr., the treasurer and business manager.

Executives at Linsalata Capital declined to comment. Gervato, of Eatem, did not return requests for comment by deadline and Buono could not be reached for comment.

This article was previously published on the website of Buyouts magazine.