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    Pierre Foods to Merge With Advance Food Co., Advance Brands

    The newly combined protein and sandwich supplier will be named Advance Pierre Foods.

    CINCINNATI -- Senior management from Pierre Foods Inc., Advance Food Co. Inc. and Advance Brands LLC announced that the boards of directors of all three companies unanimously approved and entered into a definitive merger agreement. The newly combined company will be called Advance Pierre Foods and be a supplier of value-added protein and handheld convenience food products to the foodservice, school, retail, club, vending and convenience store channels.

    The transaction is expected to close within the next two months and is subject to customary closing conditions. Funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management LP, a Los Angeles-based investment firm, are currently the majority shareholder of Pierre Foods and upon closing, will maintain a majority share of the combined company. The current shareholders of Advance Food Co., the Allen and McLaughlin families, will own a minority share of the combined company, according to a news release.

    Current Pierre Foods CEO Bill Toler will become CEO of the combined company, while current Advance Food Co. CEO Greg Allen will join the board of directors of the new company.

    "Pierre is extremely pleased to merge with these two outstanding companies we have known and admired over the years. The new and expanded product offerings and distribution network will give our combined customers tremendous variety, quality and value," Toler said in a statement. "Our businesses are wonderfully complementary, and we share common corporate philosophies around the importance of taking care of both customers and employees."

    The new Advance Pierre Foods will offer a full line of packaged sandwiches; fully cooked chicken and beef products; Philly-style steak; breaded beef, pork and poultry; and bakery products. Headquartered in Cincinnati, with some divisional leadership based in Oklahoma, Advance Pierre Foods will operate protein processing facilities in Oklahoma, Ohio and Iowa, as well as sandwich assembly facilities in North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina. The company will also operate bakeries in North Carolina and Oklahoma, the companies reported.

    The management team for Advance Pierre Foods will include executives from all three companies. Integration planning for all company functions is underway.

    "Pierre has had a long tradition of providing innovative and high-quality products, which are a natural fit for our company. The combination of resources from all three companies will provide more options and opportunities across all sales channels, resulting in a stronger company going forward into the future," stated Mark Allen, current president of Advance Food Co., who will run the division focused on foodservice and school channels in the newly combined company.

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