Campbell Stock Rises on Rumors of a Sale

PHILADELPHIA (The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS) -

Shares of Campbell Soup Company, PepsiCo. and Kellogg Company ticked higher after The Wall Street Journal reported that a Brazilian investment firm, 3G Capital Partners, recently raised $5 billion from investors and was eyeing its next targets.

Some people close to 3G think the firm’s next acquisition may be a food or beverage company to bolster ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co., which 3G bought in partnership with Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in 2013, the newspaper reported.

Campbell, headquartered in Camden, N.J., declined to comment.

“We don’t comment on speculation,” said company spokesman Tom Hushen.

3G paid $3.3 billion for Burger King’s parent company in 2010. That company then acquired Tim Hortons Inc., a Canadian donut and coffee chain, for $12 billion in 2014, The Journal said.

Barron’s magazine, published by Dow Jones & Co., noted that acquiring Campbell and Kellogg could prove tough because both companies have families and a foundation that control sizeable blocks of stock.

Barron’s said that an impediment in a takeover of Campbell is that descendants of founder John Dorrance control about 41 percent of Campbell shares, giving them effective blocking rights.

At Kellogg, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Trust owns 21 percent of the shares. H.J. Heinz Co. did not have a large block of family-controlled shares, Barron’s said.

“3G is known for deep cost-cutting moves when it buys companies and its harsh strategy might not sit well with paternalistic family members or foundation trustees,” Barron’s Andrew Bary wrote. “Campbell has long been a rumored takeover target, and the lack of any deal so far could reflect family influence.”

In recent weeks, investors have pledged about $5 billion to a new takeover fund being formed by 3G, which has not disclosed what it plans to do with the money, or whether it’s interested in controlling more well-known consumer brands, The Journal said.

Founded in 1869, Campbell makes its namesake brand soup and other brands such as Pepperidge Farm, Goldfish, Bolthouse Farms and V8.

On Thursday:

– Shares of Campbell Soup Company rose 90 cents, or 2 percent, to $45.53.

­– Shares of PepsiCo rose $1.74, or 1.8 percent, to $97.48.

– Shares of Kellogg Company rose $1.20, or 1.8 percent, to $67.21.