Group Acquires M&S Fine Foods, Authentic Mexican

MA Holdings, a newly formed holding corporation, has acquired catalog/Internet marketer M&S Fine Foods and specialty foods manufacturer Authentic Mexican. The two operating units will continue as separate, but complementary subsidiaries of MA Holdings.

Terms of the deal, known as a tax-free share exchange transaction, were not disclosed. Deborah J. Collyer, president/CEO of M&S Fine Foods, has also been named president/CEO of MA Holdings. Bernard H. La Lone Jr. remains chairman of M&S and Frank Casciari will stay president of Authentic Mexican.

As a key player in the gourmet specialty food sector, Authentic provides M&S the opportunity to broaden its product offerings into a number of ethnic food categories–Asian, Hispanic, and Italian, for example–many of which the company’s Authentico brand currently produces for other wholesale customers, the release says.

Conversely, M&S can alleviate Authentic’s dependence on several large customers, according to a Dec. 16 release announcing the deal. What’s more, synergies exist in the availability of M&S’ managements culinary expertise, its warehouse and freezer facilities located in Roanoke, VA, and its favorable negotiated nationwide shipping rates.

Lee Helman, a managing director with investment firm Financo, says the merger appears to create more scale and eliminate duplicative cost structures to position the combined company for growth, “while the two companies independently might not survive.”

M&S Fine Foods began in 2002, having acquired the assets of McArthur’s Smokehouse and Seyco Fine Foods. M&S in 2006 executed an exclusive license with Phillips Foods to market via catalog and the Internet direct-to-consumer sales of Phillips frozen seafood products. The next year, M&S purchased the catalog and e-commerce Impromptu Gourmet division from The Schwan Food Co.

Launched in the early 1990s, Authentic Mexican, is a manufacturer of all-natural, cooked, ready-to-eat gourmet quality foods that it markets under the Authentic Mexican and Authentico brands through distributors, national retailers and gourmet chains, Internet and catalog retailers, and specialty stores.