Dean Foods Co. in May said it will acquire the manufacturing and retail ice cream business of Friendly’s Ice Cream for $155 million in cash. Friendly’s is a leading ice cream brand in the Northeast, as well as a restaurant company. Dean Foods ranks No. 2 and Friendly’s ranks No. 67 on the 2015 Dairy 100, this magazine’s annual ranking of North America’s largest dairy processing companies.
Friendly’s Ice Cream, with $166 million in net sales in 2015, produces popular packaged ice cream and other frozen dessert products, including single-serve sundae cups, novelty items, cakes and rolls. Its plant is in Wilbraham, in western Massachusetts. Friendly’s distributes these products in over 8,000 retail outlets. In 2011, Friendly’s filed for bankruptcy protection and emerged from it about a year later.
Dean Foods is represented in New England by Garelick Farms, a fluid milk processor.
In addition to acquiring the manufacturing and retail ice cream business, Dean Foods will acquire the Friendly’s trademark as well as all intellectual property associated with the ice cream business. Friendly’s Restaurants, a leading family-dining restaurant chain with over 260 locations in the U.S., will continue to be owned and operated by an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners, Inc. and will license use of the Friendly’s trademark under a license agreement entered into as part of the transaction.
The transaction is expected to close late in the second quarter of 2016, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. In a statement, Dean Foods said the senior management team of Friendly’s Ice Cream will continue to lead the business.
Rothschild Inc. acted as financial advisor to Dean Foods on the transaction, and Gibson Dunn provided legal support. Lazard Middle Market served as financial advisor to Friendly’s Ice Cream on the transaction, and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius was the company’s legal advisor.