Bolthouse Bidding in Final Round

Campbell’s Soup Co. is offering up between $1.5 and $2 billion for juice maker Bolthouse Farms, Inc., which is currently owned by Madison Dearborn, a Chicago-based private equity group, according to Bloomberg News.

The bid makes Campbell’s one of the finalists for Bolthouse, according to Bloomberg, which also reported that the final bids are expected to finish a sale in the next few weeks.

Bolthouse, which started off in the baby carrot business but made a hard push into the juice arena about a decade ago. Once family-owned, Bolthouse became a target for investors when the tax burden on the company became too large for later generations to handle. Madison Dearborn acquired the company in 2005, eventually bringing in CPG veterans like former Coke executive Jeffrey Dunn and CMO Bryan Reese from Gallo.

As it moved into the juice business, Bolthouse leveraged existing relationships with produce buyers to become a strong rival to Naked and Odwalla, which are owned by PepsiCo and the Coca-Cola Co., respectively.

Campbell’s has had surprising growth itself in the beverage arena, after expanding its V8 product line to include fruit as well as vegetable juices; according to Bloomberg, the company’s juice division accounted for about 10 percent of its sales last year.

Other bidders may include other private equity firms, according to Bloomberg.