Kraft Sells Controlling Stake in Back to Nature

Brynwood Partners VI L.P will acquire a controlling stake in the Back to Nature brand food business through a partnership with Kraft Foods.

Kraft Foods will continue to hold a substantial minority stake and will have board representation in the joint venture. Terms and conditions of the transaction, which is scheduled to close in October, will not be disclosed.

The natural food brand was founded in 1960. The joint venture will initially offer Back to Nature products in four categories: crackers, cookies, trail mixes & nuts and granola. Kraft will retain management of the Back to Nature macaroni and cheese.

As part of the transaction, the Greenwich, Conn.-based equity firm will appoint Vincent Fantegrossi as president and CEO of the new company. Fantegrossi previously served as president and CEO of Richelieu Foods Inc., a Brynwood Partners V L.P. investment.

"We look forward to growing the Back to Nature brand and helping it to achieve even greater success in both the natural and mainstream channels through select new product and new category introductions, while staying true to the mission of giving people truly flavorful, wholesome foods made with simple ingredients,” Said Henk Hartong III, senior managing partner of Brynwood. “We are excited to work with Kraft in this unique joint venture."

Since January 2011, Brynwood Partners has completed the acquisitions of 20 corporate brands in seven separate transactions. The Back to Nature transaction marks Brynwood Partners' third transaction with Kraft Foods. Its other investments include Turtles chocolate candy, Flipz chocolate covered pretzels, TrueNorth nut-clusters, Kretschmer wheat germ, and Balance Bar energy / nutrition bars.

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