ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Royal Wessanen nv said it sold Tree of Life, the natural/organic food distributor based here, along with all but one subsidiary, to Kehe Food Distributors for $190 million cash, in a debt-free transaction.
The agreement includes Tree of Life U.S., as well as Tree of Life Canada, which operates out of Calagary, Alberta. Only Panos Brands, a portfolio of 15 food brands, was not included in the sale, according to Wessanen officials, speaking from the Netherlands.
Kehe, headquartered in Romeoville, Ill., is already one of the country's top distributors of specialty, ethnic and gourmet products in the United States, as well as Mexico and the Caribbean. The acquisition will give it a strong entree into the growing Canadian market.
According to a Wessanen statement, "The net proceeds of the sale will be used to reduce Wessanen's debt and strengthen its balance sheet to support growth of its European businesses."
The company stated that executive management of Tree of Life is expected to stay. As a result, Richard Lane, Tree of Life's president and CEO, stepped down as a member of Wessanen's executive board, effective immediately.
The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2010.
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