Canada-based Saputo Inc. signed an agreement to acquire Fairmount Cheese Holdings Inc., the Deerfield, Ill.-based parent company of DCI Cheese Co. Inc., one of the largest specialty cheese marketers in the United States. Saputo ranks No. 2 on the Dairy 100, Dairy Foods' list of the nation's largest dairy processors.

For the year ending Dec. 31, 2010, DCI had sales of about $460 million and sales volumes of about 160 million pounds.

The purchase price of $270.5 million on a debt-free basis will be paid in cash from liquidity and/or by drawing on available lines of credit. The transaction is subject to usual conditions (including regulatory approval) and is expected to close in March.

The acquisition will complement the activities of Saputo Dairy Products Division (USA) and increase its presence in the specialty cheese category in the United States.

DCI has an extensive product portfolio consisting of more than 100 types of domestic and imported specialty cheeses. DCI markets its products nationwide under a variety of brand names such as County Line, Great Midwest, Joan of Arc, King’s Choice, Nikkos, Salemville, il Giardino and Organic Creamery, as well as under private labels.

DCI sells and distributes specialty cheese from the cut-and-wrap facility in Green Bay, Wis., and from the Carlstadt, N.J., distribution center. DCI holds an important portfolio of import licenses for specialty cheese manufactured abroad and also manufactures and sells other products such as spreads, salsa, hummus and dips from the Santa Rosa, Calif., facility. DCI has a total of approximately 475 employees.

About Saputo
Saputo produces, markets and distributes a wide array of products, including cheese, fluid milk, yogurt, dairy ingredients and snack cakes. Saputo is the 12th largest dairy processor in the world, the largest in Canada, the third largest in Argentina, among the top three cheese producers in the United States and the largest snack cake manufacturer in Canada. Its products are sold in more than 40 countries under well-known brand names such as Saputo, Alexis de Portneuf, Armstrong, Baxter, Dairyland, Danscorella, De Lucia, Dragone, DuVillage 1860, Frigo Cheese Heads, Kingsey, La Paulina, Neilson, Nutrilait, Ricrem, Stella, Treasure Cave, HOP&GO!, Rondeau and Vachon. Saputo is a publicly-traded company whose shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol SAP.

Sandy Vassiadis, director, corporate communications