Del Monte gears up to digest Heinz

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- While other businesses slow down for the holidays, Del Monte Foods Co. is gearing up to try to capitalize on its biggest acquisition in more than a decade of dealmaking.

Monday marked Del Monte's first day running a greatly expanded product line that has doubled the company's size. The additions include Starkist tuna and top-selling brands of pet food.

The new products, picked up in a $2.3 billion spin-off from Pittsburgh-based H.J. Heinz Co., herald the latest incarnation of San Francisco-based Del Monte and its 110-year-old brand.

The company has undergone several makeovers since investors extracted the nation's largest canned vegetable and fruit business from RJR Nabisco in a $1.5 billion leveraged buyout in 1990.


None of the previous deals has been as big as its takeover of Heinz' tuna, pet food, baby food and private-label soup brands.

With the newly acquired Heinz brands, Del Monte expects its annual sales to rise above $3 billion, up from $1.3 billion in the company's last fiscal year ending in June.

Del Monte's work force is swelling from 2,800 to 8,500 year-round employees to handle the heavier sales volume.

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