Foodservice equipment maker Middleby to buy rival Welbilt for $2.9 billion

(Reuters) – Foodservice equipment manufacturer Middleby Corp said on Wednesday it would buy smaller rival Welbilt Inc for about $2.9 billion in an all-stock deal to beef up its commercial foodservice platform.

The combined company will have about $3.7 billion in combined sales for 2020, with the commercial foodservice segment accounting for 73% of the total, the companies said in a joint statement.

The deal is also expected to help Middleby expand its international operations and boost its investments in newer technologies, such as ventless cooking.

“This transaction will bring together two complementary businesses, accelerate the Middleby growth strategy into key markets globally and increase core capabilities in highly attractive segments,” the companies said.

Welbilt shareholders will receive 0.1240 shares of Middleby for each unit held. The offer translates to $20.68 per Welbilt share, a premium of about 32% to the company’s closing share price on Tuesday.

Welbilt’s largest shareholder, billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn with an 8.4% stake, has agreed to the deal.

Middleby shareholders will own about 76% of the combined company, while Welbilt investors will own the rest.

Welbilt shares were up about 14% at $17.76 in premarket trading on Wednesday.

(This story corrects to “per Welbilt share” in fifth paragraph)

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