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Big Brands > Dean Foods

OpenGate to acquire Dean Foods' US dairy plant

By Helen Glaberson , 17-Aug-2011
Last updated on 17-Aug-2011 at 16:56 GMT2011-08-17T16:56:51Z

Private equity firm OpenGate is to buy Dean Foods' Waukesha dairy plant that the US giant was previously ordered to put up for sale as a result of a federal antitrust case.

OpenGate will acquire the Golden Guernsey and La Vaca Bonita brands as part of the transaction. The business manufactures, bottles and distributes its dairy products to schools, grocery stores, convenience stores and major retailers in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Settlement

Last April, Dean announced it was seeking a buyer for the Wisconsin dairy as part of a settlement it made with the US Department of Justice.

The Justice Department had filed an antitrust lawsuit against Dean objecting to the purchase of two plants from Foremost Farms – both in the state of Wisconsin.

These were acquired by the firm when it bought the consumer products division of Foremost Farms USA in April 2009.

Dean said the divestiture would include the 170,000-square-foot fluid dairy processing facility in Waukesha, near Milwaukee, along with equipment.

In the proposed settlement, published on the 29th March, Dean agreed to sell the Waukesha plant but is allowed to keep the facility in DePere.

“OpenGate seeks opportunities to acquire well-recognized brands with solid operations and business fundamentals,” said Andrew Nikou, capital founder and managing partner.

“This operation, including the Golden Guernsey brand, meets our mark on all accounts,” he said.

“By adhering to our disciplined investment criteria, we are able to identify and leverage opportunities with high-potential brands such as Golden Guernsey.”

The deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in the third quarter.

Michael Kraus, who led the transaction for OpenGate said the firm was keen to expand the business and develop new products.

Second-quarter loss

Recently, Dean also posted a net loss of $51m in its second quarter results after it paid out $131m to settle the class-action litigation filed by Tennessee dairy farmers.

The pay-out masked the firm’s reported net income of $45m.

Last month, the company said it reached a $140m settlement with the dairy farmers to settle a lawsuit alleging that Dean and cooperatives had worked together to keep prices artificially low.

Along with other food industry giants, the company is also facing higher costs for raw ingredients.