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Utz Is in Merger Talks With Investment Company Collier Creek

US Snack manufacturer Utz Is in Merger Talks With Blank-Check Firm Collier

May 12, 2020

Potato chip-maker Utz Quality Foods is in talks to be acquired by Collier Creek Holdings, a company specifically set up for acquisitions or mergers, started by former Blackstone Group Inc. executives, according to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter.

A deal valuing the maker of cheese balls and potato stix at more than $1 billion, including debt, could be reached as soon as this month, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public.

The companies have been in talks since before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, they said. No final decision has been made and negotiations could fall through, they said.

A representative for New York-based Collier declined to comment, while a representative for Utz didn’t respond to a request for comment. Collier’s shares rose 3.6% on Tuesday morning in New York.

Collier, a special purpose acquisition company, raised $440 million in an initial public offering in October 2018 with a focus on buying consumer goods and related businesses. Its founders are former Pinnacle Foods Inc. Chairman Roger K. Deromedi and Jason K. Giordano and Chinh E. Chu, both of whom previously worked at Blackstone.

Hanover, Pennsylvania-based Utz describes itself as the largest independent privately held snack brand in the U.S., according to its website. Founded by Bill and Salie Utz, the company makes potato chips, pretzels, cheese balls, and other snacks under the brands Utz, Bachman, and Golden Flake.

Utz got widespread exposure when the fictitious advertising firm Sterling Cooper was hired to develop an ad campaign for the company in the critically acclaimed TV drama 'Mad Men.'

Famed investor Warren Buffett in 2015 said he had considered buying the snack-food company, according to Fortune. At the time, a company representative said it hadn’t heard from Buffett and planned to remain a family-owned business.

Utz agreed to buy Conagra Brands Inc.’s direct-store delivery snacks business in September and completed a merger with snackfood maker Kitchen Cooked Inc. in December.

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