VEVEY, Switzerland -- The sale of privately held Chef America, maker of the Hot Pockets brand of frozen stuffed sandwiches, to Nestle SA here for $2.6 billion closed on Sept. 12, the same day that the deal received approval by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, company officials said.
Chef America, based in Englewood, Colo., is expected to generate sales of $720 million in 2002. It employs 1,700 people. Its plants are in Chatsworth, Calif., and in Mount Sterling, Ky. Its co-founders, brothers Paul and David Merage, invented the concept of Hot Pockets. "We are so pleased that the Federal Trade Commission cleared the acquisition 30 days after the agreement was announced. Now that we have received regulatory approval, we plan to celebrate the good news with the employees, to welcome them as the newest members of the Nestle family," Loretta Ivany, manager of division and brand affairs for Nestle USA, Solon, Ohio, told SN.
Chef America is now part of the Prepared Foods Division of Nestle USA, she added, saying that the products complement the company's Stouffer's and Lean Cuisine entree business in terms of their product form (handheld products), demographics (younger user) and usage occasions (snack and breakfast).
"We are in the process of forming a joint transition team to plan and establish priorities to ensure the continued success of our businesses," Ivany said. She said the sales force teams for the businesses within the Prepared Foods Division consist of both direct sales and brokered.