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Investment Firm Completes Purchase of Birds Eye Foods

<p>The Birds Eye logo.</p>
The Birds Eye logo.

The world’s biggest private equity company has completed its purchase of Birds Eye Foods, including the Birds Eye Fulton plant.

The sale to Blackstone Group‘s Pinnacle Foods Group cost $1.3 billion.

The fate of the Fulton plant or its seven other food processing factories is not known.

“Birds Eye Foods represents an ideal strategic fit,” said Bob Gamgort, CEO of Pinnacle Foods, in a news release. “We look forward to harnessing the power of the combined brand portfolio to better serve our consumers and customers.”

The Fulton factory was established 107 years ago as part of the Fort Stanwix Canning Company (see this brief history of the plant here, at FultonHistory.com) of Rome, but was sold to various other companies over the years.  With Birds Eye, the factory has been part of the greatest change in the history of processing vegetables — flash freezing of foods to keep them fresh.

The purchase of Birds Eye was good for new owner Pinnacle Foods, which also owns brands such as Duncan Hines, Vlasic and Aunt Jemima.  Standard and Poor’s Rating Services upgraded its rating of Pinnacle’s debt to B.  That’s still five grades below investment grade, but S&P expects, according to Dow Jones Newswire, “Pinnacle to have stable or improving operating performance and adequate liquidity.”

Pinnacle’s stock price has doubled this year.