By Abigail Summerville
Sept 27 (Reuters) - Private equity firm Wind Point Partners is exploring a sale of Gehl Foods LLC that could value the U.S. manufacturer of dairy-based products at over $600 million, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.
Gehl has hired William Blair and Bank of Montreal as financial advisers on the sale process, the sources said, requesting anonymity because the matter is confidential.
Potential buyers for the company, which operates as Gehl Food & Beverage, include private equity firms, the sources added, cautioning the talks may not lead to a deal.
Gehl could fetch a valuation equivalent to 10 times the company's 12-month earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of about $60 million, the sources said.
Gehl and Wind Point did not immediately respond to requests for comment. William Blair and BMO declined to comment.
Founded in 1896 by J.P. Gehl, the company started out as a manufacturer of dairy products and eventually began to focus on making food products that would have a longer shelf life.
The Germantown, Wisconsin-based company uses a process called aseptic manufacturing, which allows food and beverage products to be stored at room temperature, without the need for refrigeration.
Gehl currently manufactures a wide range of products including nutritional beverages, almond milk, puddings, and soups. Its products are sold through distributors including restaurants, movie theaters, and other retail channels.
Gehl was family-owned until Wind Point acquired the company in 2015.
Chicago-based Wind Point is a prolific investor in food and beverage companies, including FreshEdge, Tropicale Foods and Stir Foods. The private equity firm typically backs companies with enterprise values of less than $1 billion. (Reporting by Abigail Summerville in New York; Editing by Anirban Sen and Chris Reese)