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Kellogg plans to separate into three companies

The announcement Tuesday comes a decade after Kellogg’s $2.7 billion purchase of Pringles, which signaled the company’s shift to focusing on the global snacks business with people increasingly eating more often between meals. Kellogg, along with rivals like Frito-Lay-owner PepsiCo and Oreo-cookie owner Mondelez, have leaned into the trend by introducing more snacks and snapping up smaller brands. On Monday, Mondelez said it is acquiring Clif Bar for $2.9 billion.

Cereal sales, by contrast, have stagnated in the U.S. as people eat on the go and reach for a greater variety of options in the morning. Brands including Special K, Froot Loops and Rice Krispies had for decades been a foundation of Kellogg, but are no longer seen as key growth drivers for the company. The pandemic briefly revived the cereal category as more consumers ate breakfast at home, but Kellogg expects flat revenue growth for its North American cereal business in the future.

“Those who scratched their head in 2012 about the zero-overlap Pringles deal should scratch no longer. It’s the legacy North American business that didn’t fit management’s plans, and today’s announcement makes that final,” Consumer Edge analyst Jonathan Feeney wrote in a note to clients.

Kellogg has been weighing spinoffs as a potential strategy since 2018, executives told investors on a conference call discussing the announcement on Tuesday. CEO Steve Cahillane said all three businesses have “significant” standalone potential, although the company is exploring alternatives including a potential sale for its plant-based business.

Combined, Kellogg’s plant-based division and North American cereal business accounted for about 20% of the company’s revenue last year. The remaining business includes its snacks, noodles, international cereal and North American frozen breakfast brands. The tax-free spinoffs are expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

Names for the new companies haven’t yet been decided, and proposed management teams for the two spinoffs will be announced by the first quarter of next year. Cahillane will stay on as chief executive of the global snacking company.

The snack-focused company will also be looking to add to its portfolio through acquisitions, according to Cahillane. 

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