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Minnesota's Schwan's sold to South Korean company in $1.8 billion deal

The 66-year-old business has new owners.

Famed Minnesota food distributor Schwan's is being sold to a South Korean firm in a deal worth $1.8 billion.

The Marshall company announced Thursday that it is selling a majority, 80 percent stake in its business to Seoul-based CJ CheilJedang (CJCJ).

Schwan's was founded in 1952 by Marvin Schwan, operating initially in rural Minnesota as a one-man-and-a-truck home delivery business, but has now grown to be a major frozen food manufacturer, employing around 12,000 people and owning brands including Red Baron, Freschetta and Pagoda Asian-style foods.

It's probably best known in Minnesota for the frozen food trucks that arrive on a schedule in many rural towns.

Paul Schwan, the son of founder Marvin and now a Schwan's board member, said that the company's sale will position it "to achieve new levels of growth in the spirit of the vision put forth by my father, Marvin Schwan, so many years ago."

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Although it'll now become a subsidiary of CJ Foods America Corp., Schwan's operations will continue to be headquartered in Minnesota, with its corporate offices in Marshall and Bloomington.

Its current senior management team will also stay in place.

Schwan’s CEO Dimitrios Smyrnios said: "CJ CheilJedang is an extraordinarily world-class and innovative company well-known for their success worldwide, and we are very impressed with their global growth plans and investments in the United States. The future for Schwan’s and our people is very bright."

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