One of Lawrence’s larger manufacturers soon may have a new owner.
Del Monte has confirmed that it plans to sell it operations to a buyout group led by the asset management firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Del Monte has a major plant in Lawrence at 727 N. Iowa that produces the Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food brand for the company.
The $5.3 billion deal calls for Del Monte shareholders to be paid $19 per share, or about a 40 percent premium over what Del Monte shares had been trading for prior to the announcement. The new ownership group also would assume about $1.3 billion in Del Monte debt.
The deal is expected to close in March, although the deal does allow the company to solicit offers from other companies through Jan. 8.
The Del Monte plant in Lawrence has a long history in the city, although not always under the Del Monte name. The plant opened in 1978 under the Quaker Oats name. Heinz operated the plant from 1995 to the late part of 2002 when Del Monte bought the facility. The plant always has been a pet food factory. Since the early 1980s it has been producing the Kibbles ‘n Bits brand, which has become one of the better-selling dog foods on the market.
The Del Monte name is expected to be maintained under the new ownership. Attempts to determine how many employees the Lawrence plant currently has were not immediately successful, but historically the plant has had between 100 and 150 employees.