Nestle buys Chef America for $2.6 billion

Tuesday, August 6th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

VEVEY, Switzerland (AP) _ Swiss food and drinks giant Nestle announced Tuesday it was buying U.S. frozen food company Chef America for $2.6 billion.

``Chef America is an ideal and strategically important complement to our own frozen food activities in the United States,'' said Nestle Chief Executive Peter Brabeck.

The Denver-based Chef America produces the popular Hot Pockets brand of frozen sandwich, which is heated in the microwave. The company, which is privately held, expects sales of $720 million in 2002 _ an increase of more than 15 percent on last year.

``I am very pleased to see Chef America's innovative, high-growth and high-margin business joining us, giving Nestle the lead in two out of three principal categories in the world's largest frozen food market,'' Brabeck said.

The news comes as speculation builds that Nestle is a prospective buyer of Hershey Foods, the largest U.S. candy maker, in a deal that could be worth $10 billion.