LONDON -- H.J. Heinz Company announced today that its HP Foods business has signed a definitive agreement with Associated British Foods plc group for the sale of HP Foods' Ethnic Foods business, comprising a small part of the HP business acquired in August by Heinz. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"Selling the HP Ethnic Foods business, which is sold primarily through the ethnic distribution channel, is in line with our strategy of focusing on three core categories where Heinz is a sector leader: ketchup, condiments & sauces; meals & snacks; and infant nutrition," said Joe Jimenez, president and CEO, Heinz Europe. Heinz acquired HP Foods to focus on three sauce brands: Lea & Perrins(R), HP(R) sauces and a perpetual license to market the rapidly growing Amoy(R) Asian sauces brands in Europe.



The HP Foods Ethnic Food business supplies a wide range of owned and agency brands to the Chinese, Indian and Thai restaurant sector, as well as specialist retailers. These include Rajah, Green Dragon, Lotus, Maharajah, Cathay and Dynasty.



The proposed sale to ABF will include the transfer of 30 employees based in Europe including the UK. The UK Competition Commission, currently investigating Heinz's acquisition of HP, has approved the proposed sale. The sale should be completed in the next two months.



H.J. Heinz Company is one of the world's leading marketers and producers of branded foods in ketchup, condiments, sauces, meals, soups, seafood, snacks, and infant foods. Heinz's 50 companies have No. 1 or No. 2 brands in 200 countries.



Associated British Foods is an international food ingredients and retail group with 2005 sales of GBP 5.6 billion and over 42,000 employees in 41 countries. ABF focuses on four market sectors: grocery, primary food and agriculture, ingredients, and retail. The group has sales and manufacturing operations worldwide.



SOURCE: H.J. Heinz Company via Business Wire.