Pierre Foods Merging with Advance

Pierre Foods, a portfolio company of Oaktree Capital Management, has agreed to merger with Advance Food Co. and Advance Brands LLC, to create a single provider of protein and handheld convenience food products. No financial terms were disclosed. Oaktree will serve as the combined company’s majority shareholder. 


Senior management from Pierre Foods, Inc., Advance Food Company, Inc. and Advance Brands, LLC, announced today that the Boards of Directors of all three companies have unanimously approved and entered into a definitive merger agreement. The combined company will be called Advance Pierre Foods and creates a leading supplier of value-added protein and handheld convenience food products to the foodservice, school, retail, club, vending and convenience store channels.

The transaction is expected to close within the next two months and is subject to customary closing conditions. Funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P., a Los Angeles-based investment firm, are currently the majority shareholder of Pierre Foods and upon closing, will maintain a majority share of the combined company. The current shareholders of Advance Food Company, the Allen and McLaughlin Families, will own a minority share of the combined company.

Bill Toler, current CEO of Pierre Foods, will become the CEO of the newly combined company and Greg Allen, current CEO of Advance Food Company will join the Board of Directors of the combined company.

“Pierre is extremely pleased to merge with these two outstanding companies we have known and admired over the years. The new and expanded product offerings and distribution network will give our combined customers tremendous variety, quality and value,” said Toler. “Our businesses are wonderfully complementary, and we share common corporate philosophies around the importance of taking care of both customers and employees. “

Advance Pierre Foods will offer a full line of packaged sandwiches, fully cooked chicken and beef products, Philly-style steak, breaded beef, pork, and poultry and bakery products. Headquartered in Cincinnati, with some divisional leadership based in Oklahoma, Advance Pierre Foods will operate protein processing facilities in Oklahoma, Ohio and Iowa as well as sandwich assembly facilities in North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina. The company will also operate bakeries in North Carolina and Oklahoma.

The management team for Advance Pierre Foods includes executives from all three companies. Integration planning for all company functions is underway.

“Pierre has had a long tradition of providing innovative and high quality products which are a natural fit for our company,” said Mark Allen, current President of Advance Food Company. “The combination of resources from all three companies will provide more options and opportunities across all sales channels, resulting in a stronger company going forward into the future.” In the newly combined company, Allen will run the division focused on foodservice and school channels.

“Putting our companies together truly combines the best of both worlds for all of our customers and creates a world class organization to serve their needs,” said Billy McPherson, Vice President of Sales for Advance Brands.

“Both Pierre and the Advance companies are coming off of successful years,” said Matthew Wilson, Managing Director at Oaktree Capital Management. “We are very excited about the growth opportunity created by putting these three financially strong companies together.”

Credit Suisse, Barclays Capital, Morgan Stanley and BMO Capital Markets have entered into financing arrangements, subject to customary closing conditions, to provide debt financing for the transaction and Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital and Credit Suisse acted as Oaktree and Pierre’s financial advisors. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP acted as Oaktree and Pierre’s legal advisor. Bass, Berry & Sims served as legal advisor to the Advance Companies.

About Pierre Foods, Inc.

Pierre Foods is a nationally recognized industry leader in providing fully cooked protein and sandwich products to a wide variety of customers including schools, restaurants, retail supermarkets, vending machines, the military, and convenience stores. Pierre Foods offers more than 1,000 different products, including more than 400 types of full-size and mini sandwiches, in addition to beef, pork, poultry, bakery items, and peanut butter products. Leading the trend towards healthier food options for our nation’s youth, Pierre recently rolled out Smart Picks, 60 new items that are reduced fat, reduced sodium or enhanced protein or higher fiber menu options available now for school cafeterias all over the country. Pierre is currently owned by funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management L.P., a Los Angeles-based investment firm.

About Advance Food Company

Advance Food Company is a leading national manufacturer of value-added, center-of-the-plate protein products for the foodservice industry. Founded in 1973 by Paul Allen and David McLaughlin in Enid, Oklahoma, Advance manufactures pre-portioned, ready-to-cook and fully cooked beef, pork, veal, chicken and turkey products, including Steak-EZE® brand of Philly-style steaks. Advance products reach customers in restaurants, business and industry foodservice venues, schools and universities, military bases, healthcare facilities, hotels, and stadiums and arenas across the United States and abroad.

About Advance Brands, LLC

Advance Brands is a joint venture formed in 2001 between Advance Food Company and Cargill Meat Solutions. Advance Brands supplies quality convenience foods under the brand names Fast Fixin’, Fast Classics and Steak- EZE® — delicious, convenient chicken, beef and pork products sold in retail supermarkets and club stores nationwide.

About Oaktree Capital Management, L.P.

Oaktree is a premier global alternative and non-traditional investment manager with over $76 billion in assets under management as of March 31, 2010. The firm emphasizes an opportunistic, value-oriented and risk-controlled approach to investments in distressed debt, high yield and convertible bonds, senior loans, private equity (including power infrastructure), real estate, emerging market equities and mezzanine finance. Oaktree was founded in 1995 by a group of principals who have worked together since the mid-1980s. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the firm today has approximately 600 employees and offices in 14 cities worldwide.