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Mondelez Sells SnackWell’s Stake

Trey Thoelcke

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Mondelez International Inc. (MDLZ), the snack food business recently spun off from Kraft Foods, will give up its controlling interest in its SnackWell's cookie and cracker business. Private equity firm Brynwood Partners will acquire the stake.

Brynwood specializes in taking faded brands from large corporations and creating new stand-alone companies. The firm said it will combine SnackWell's with its Back to Nature cookies and granola business, in which it acquired a controlling stake last year through a similar transaction with Mondelez.

Activist investor Nelson Peltz has been pressing Mondelez to cut costs. Last summer, Peltz suggested that PepsiCo (PEP) merge its snack business with that of Mondelez. Peltz's hedge fund Trian Fund Management owns stakes in both companies. That would bring together the makers of Cheetos and Quaker Oats with the maker of Ritz crackers and Chips Ahoy cookies.

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Last week, Brynwood Partners sold DeMet's Candy Company, maker of Turtles chocolates and Flipz chocolate pretzels, to Yildiz Holding, the Istanbul-based food and beverage company whose brands include Godiva, for $221 million. Brynwood acquired the Flipz and Turtles brands from Nestlé in separate transactions and is believed to have made about four times its investment.

"The real opportunity is for SnackWell's to have an independent and dedicated management team to try to innovate and take advantage of trends in the marketplace," a spokesperson for Brynwood said. "You have to rebuild the business, and it's sometimes easier to do that outside a huge organization."

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