Thompson Hine Advises Emmi Roth USA on Athenos Acquisition

Date: December 06, 2021

Publication: Thompson Hine LLP

Thompson Hine LLP advised Emmi Roth USA, Inc., an affiliate of Switzerland-based Emmi Group, on the purchase of the assets of the Athenos business from France-based Groupe Lactalis. The sale by Groupe Lactalis was mandated by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with Lactalis’ acquisition of The Kraft Heinz Company’s natural and specialty cheese businesses.

Emmi Roth’s acquisition of Athenos, which includes the No. 1 feta cheese brand in the United States, complements its extensive range of high-quality specialty cheeses. The transaction further strengthens the company’s position in the U.S. market and creates additional export opportunities for Swiss cheeses due to Athenos’ strong presence in the U.S. retail and food service sectors.

Emmi Roth is an industry leader in providing the nation’s most popular specialty cheeses. It operates three production facilities in Wisconsin and supplies retail and food service customers nationwide with locally produced, high-quality specialty cheeses as well as cheeses imported from Switzerland.

The DOJ Antitrust Division required Lactalis to divest the Athenos business in order to proceed with its acquisition of The Kraft Heinz Company’s natural and specialty cheese businesses. In the course of its review of the divestiture, the DOJ approved Emmi Roth as a buyer of Athenos. In 2020, Athenos generated net sales of almost $90 million.

Corporate M&A Partners Frank Chaiken (Cincinnati/Chicago), head of the firm’s Corporate Transactions & Securities practice, and Emma Off (Cincinnati) led the transaction, with support on divestiture- and DOJ-related issues from antitrust Partner Josh Shapiro (Washington, D.C./New York).

Thompson Hine’s nationally recognized corporate practice primarily advises clients on corporate transactions; corporate finance and compliance, including corporate governance, securities transactions and reporting compliance; M&A; joint ventures; and fund formation (private equity, venture) and related transactions. The practice and its lawyers are regularly identified as industry leaders in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business and The Legal 500.