The auction for Unilever’s European sauce and soups businesses has been won by Campbell Soup Company of Camden, New Jersey. The done deal is worth around one billion Euros ($924.4 million).

The businesses – Oxo bouillon cubes, and Batchelors dry soups and Bean Feast brands – are said by Campbell to notch combined annual sales of over $400m. They were put up for auction to allay European Commission fears that that Unilever would dominate the European stock mixes product sector in the wake of its acquisition last year of US foods giant Bestfoods [WAMN: 2-Oct-00].

The deal also includes six manufacturing sites in the UK, Ireland, France, Sweden and the Netherlands, which employ about 1,300 people. In addition to boosting Campbell’s sagging ‘wet soup’ business, the purchase will also give the US company a far broader beachhead in Europe, where its brand profile is relatively low.

News of the purchase accompanied Campbell’s second quarter forecast, with predicted profits of 63 cents per share – some 6 cents higher than previously stated.

Citing the success of its marketing in the fiscal to date, Campbell also said it will increase marketing spend above planned levels in the second half.

News source: Wall Street Journal