Canada-based Saputo Inc. signed a definitive agreement to acquire Morningstar Foods, LLC, a subsidiary of Dean Foods Co., Dallas. Morningstar produces a Saputo truckvariety of dairy and non-dairy extended shelf-life products, including creams and creamers, ice cream mixes, whipping cream, aerosol whipped toppings, iced coffee, half and half, value-added milks, as well as cultured products such as sour cream and cottage cheese. These products are manufactured under a wide array of private labels and owned brands, and are sold nationwide through an internal sales force and independent brokers. Morningstar serves the needs of retailers, national quick-serve restaurant chains, grocery stores, mass merchandisers and distributors across the United States. Morningstar has approximately 2,000 employees and operates 10 manufacturing facilities located in nine states.

The purchase price for the transaction is $1.45 billion on a debt-free basis, and will be financed through a newly committed bank loan. The transaction is subject to customary conditions (including regulatory approval) and is expected to close by the end of December. For the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2012, Morningstar’s revenues amounted to $1.6 billion, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of approximately $153 million.

The acquisition of Morningstar will complement the activities of the Saputo Dairy Products Division (USA). Through this acquisition, Saputo will benefit from Morningstar's national manufacturing and distribution footprint and will optimize coast-to-coast service. This transaction will expand product offering to customers in the United States and broaden the range of Saputo's future acquisition opportunities. The combined business will have approximately 12,000 employees and 57 manufacturing facilities in five countries.