By P.R. Venkat and Nopparat Chaichalearmmongkol

BANGKOK--A company owned by Thailand's richest man, billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, has agreed to buy the U.S.-based frozen-food company Bellisio Parent, LLC for nearly $1.1 billion, the latest move by an acquisitive Thai tycoon looking to branch out beyond the home market.

An agreement for Mr. Dhanin's company, Charoen Pokphand Foods, to acquire Bellisio Parent is expected to close within 180 days, CP Foods said Thursday.

Established in 1990, Bellisio group is the third-largest producer and distributor of single-serve frozen entrees in the U.S. by unit share. It sells brands such as, Michelina's, Boston Market, Chili's and Atkins.

CP Foods is one of the largest agricultural and food businesses in Thailand, and distributes poultry, meat and seafood products throughout Asia, Europe and the U.S.

Mr. Dhanin also has business interests in sectors from telecommunications to retail to finance.

"I believe that our partnership with CPF will allow us to propel Bellisio through its next phase of growth," Joel Conner, chairman and chief executive of Bellisio group said in a press release.

Mr. Dhanin isn't new to cross-broader deals. Last year, the billionaire teamed up with Japanese conglomerate Itochu Corp. to pay about $10.4 billion for a 20% stake in one of China's largest state-owned companies, Citic Corp. In 2012, he paid $9.39 billion for a stake in China's biggest life insurers Ping An Insurance (Group).

The deal also exemplifies how cash-rich Thai billionaires are seeking growth beyond their home market. In recent years, these tycoons have spent billions of dollars buying stakes or acquiring companies all over the world. Earlier this year, another Thai tycoon, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, spent $3.46 billion to buy a majority stake of French grocer Groupe Casino SA's retail assets in Thailand, while another billionaire paid $1.1 billion to buy Casino's Vietnam assets that was up for sale.

CP Foods Chief Executive Adirek Sripratak said in the news release that the Bellisio acquisition "is in line with CPF's strategic direction to expand into high potential market." He said the acquisition was the group's first step into the world's largest food market, the U.S.

Bellisio group is also a leading seller of single-serve frozen entrees in Canada. It has four facilities located in Ohio, California and Minnesota. The company said that for the 12 months that ended in September, the group posted adjusted net sales of $688million and adjusted pretax earnings of $82 million.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. advised CP Foods on the deal.

Write to P.R. Venkat at and Nopparat Chaichalearmmongkol at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 17, 2016 04:13 ET (09:13 GMT)

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