Lake Success, NY – The Hain Celestial Group cannot find a buyer because the organic food giant has been expanded to include too many brands, according to a story in The New York Post.
Veteran deal reporter Josh Kosman says four sources familiar with the situation told him Hain’s been informally on the market for a year. Nestle told Hain it wants to buy the business if it first sells its antibiotic-free fresh chicken and turkey division that accounted for 18% of sales in the year ended June 30, Kosman reports.
“I’ve said this year we are looking at a strategic overview of all of our business, and some things may not fit,” Hain founder and CEO Irwin Simon told The Post. “We have not made any decisions” although the chicken and turkey division is a divestiture candidate.
Hain has a market cap of $4.2 billion in an organic space on fire with acquisitions of smaller independent organic brands. The latest was announced on Friday with New York-based Siggi’s yogurt selling to French dairy giant Lactalis Group.
In his interview with The Post, Simon said, “Maybe [the sale plan] will involve selling some of my more lower-margin businesses.”
Amazon represents 10% to 11% of sales, making it Hain’s biggest customer, Simon said. He was bullish on the opportunity for the industry in a quarterly earnings call shortly after Amazon bought Whole Foods Market. Hain has spent the year downsizing its SKUs to focus on the top 500.
The Nestle SA news last November had caused the company’s shares to spike about 20% to more than $41 a share. It closed on Friday at $40.51. Shareholder activist Engaged Capital, which gained Hain board seats in September, is believed to be pushing for a sale, sources told Kosman.
Hain’s goal, Simon told The Post, is to boost sales for its most valuable brands to lift its trading multiple or to sell Hain to a large consumer foods company that is willing to pay a premium for the potential growth.
Simon’s interview with The Post is effectively a way to signal he’s interested in hearing from any other suitors for smaller pieces of the business.