Senior management fromPierre Foods, Inc.,Advance Food Company, Inc. andAdvance Brands, LLC, said today that all three companies have agreed to merge.

Officials said the combined company,Advance Pierre Foods, will be a leading supplier of value-added protein and hand-held convenience foods to the foodservice, school, retail, club, vending and convenience store channels.

Officials said they expect to complete the deal within the next two months, subject to customary closing conditions.Oaktree Capital Management, L.P., Los Angeles, is the majority shareholder of Pierre Foods and upon closing, will maintain a majority share of the combined company. The current shareholders of Advance Food Company, the Allen and McLaughlin Families, will own a minority share of the combined company.

Bill Toler, current CEO of Pierre Foods, will become the CEO of the newly combined company and Greg Allen, current CEO of Advance Food Company will join the board of directors of the combined company.

"Pierre is extremely pleased to merge with these two outstanding companies we have known and admired over the years," said Toler. "The new and expanded product offerings and distribution network will give our combined customers tremendous variety, quality and value. Our businesses are wonderfully complementary, and we share common corporate philosophies around the importance of taking care of both customers and employees."

Advance Pierre Foods will offer a full line of packaged sandwiches, fully cooked chicken and beef products, Philly-style steak, breaded beef, pork, and poultry and bakery products.  The new company will be headquartered in Cincinnati, with some divisional leadership based in Enid, Okla.

Advance Pierre Foods will operate protein processing facilities in Oklahoma, Ohio and Iowa as well as sandwich assembly facilities in North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina.  The company will also operate bakeries in North Carolina and Oklahoma.

The management team for Advance Pierre Foods includes executives from all three companies.  Integration planning for all company functions is underway. 

"Pierre has had a long tradition of providing innovative and high quality products which are a natural fit for our company," said Mark Allen, current president of Advance Food Company. "The combination of resources from all three companies will provide more options and opportunities across all sales channels, resulting in a stronger company going forward into the future."

In the newly combined company, Allen will run the division focused on foodservice and school channels.

"Putting our companies together truly combines the best of both worlds for all of our customers and creates a world class organization to serve their needs," said Billy McPherson, Advance Brands vice president of sales.

"Both Pierre and the Advance companies are coming off of successful years," added Matthew Wilson, a managing director at Oaktree Capital Management.  "We are very excited about the growth opportunity created by putting these three financially strong companies together."