St. Louis-based private-label food maker Ralcorp is being bought by ConAgra Foods headquartered in Omaha for close to $5 billion making it North America’s biggest manufacturer of cereals, crackers and other packaged foods sold under store brands. CEO Gary Rodkin said no decision had been made about whether the merged Ralcorp would retain a headquarters in St. Louis, or keep the current leadership. ConAgra CEO will visit St. Louis on Wednesday where Ralco has about 350 people.The companies said that their products are complementary to one another, with very little overlap. The combined company will have total sales of about $18 billion annually and more than 36,000 workers.
ConAgra will pay Ralcorp Holdings Inc. stockholders $90 per share, a 28 percent premium to its Monday closing price of $70.23. St. Louis-based Ralcorp currently has about 55 million outstanding shares, according to FactSet.Ralcorp’s stock jumped $18.66, or 27 percent, to $88.89 in premarket trading. Shares of ConAgra gained $1.64, or 5.8 percent, to $29.93 in trading more than an hour before the market opening.The deal is expected to close by March 31. It still needs Ralcorp shareholder approval.