Swiss food giant Nestlé has bought the United States frozen food group, Chef America, for $2.6 billion (SFr3.86 billion).
The move is being seen by analysts as a move by the world's largest food group to cement its position in the fast-growing US frozen food market.
"Chef America is an ideal and strategically important complement to our own frozen food activities in the United States," said Nestlé chief executive Peter Brabeck.
Nestlé said the deal, through its US unit, would include taking on Chef America's debts and involve a net transfer of around $2 billion after the effect of tax benefits.
Colorado-based Chef America, a privately held company, was expected to generate sales of around $720 million this year - an increase of more than 15 per cent over 2001, said Nestlé in a statement on Tuesday.
The Vevey-based company said the deal was subject to regulatory clearance and was expected to be closed within two months.
Chef America is best known for Hot Pockets, frozen sandwiches for use in microwaves. Other well known products include Lean Pockets, Croissant Pockets, Pizza Minis and Toaster Melts.
Nestlé is also being seen as one of the front runners to take over the US's top confectionary maker, Hershey, which is up for sale. The sale price is expected to be in the region of $12 billion.
swissinfo with agencies
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