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Ralston Purina

Ralston Purina Company
Industry Food, pet food, animal feeds
Fate Merged with Friskies Pet Care to form Nestlé Purina PetCare
Founded 1894 as Purina Mills
Defunct 2001
Headquarters St. Louis, Missouri
Key people
William H. Danforth, founder
Products Dog food, cat food, animal health products, breakfast cereal, crisp bread
Website www.purina.com

Ralston Purina Company was a St. Louis, Missouri-based American animal feed and pet food company. On December 12, 2001, it merged with Swiss food-giant Nestlé's Friskies division to form Nestlé Purina PetCare Company.

Ralston Purina (originally Ralston-Purina) traces its roots to 1894, when founder William H. Danforth established the animal feed company Purina Mills. Its predominant brand for each animal was generally referred to as "Chow"; hence "Purina Horse Chow", "Purina Dog Chow", "Purina Cat Chow", "Purina Rabbit Chow", "Purina Pig Chow", and even "Purina Monkey Chow". Later, the company began producing cereal, which received endorsement by Webster Edgerly, founder of Ralstonism, to market Ralston breakfast cereals. Edgerly was at the time promoting the consumption of whole-grain cereal. These cereals became so successful that the name of the enterprise was changed in 1902 to the Ralston-Purina Company.

In 1986, Ralston Purina sold Purina Mills, its US animal feed business, to British Petroleum. Purina Mills is now owned by Land O'Lakes. In 1994, the Ralston "human food" operations of the Ralston Purina Company were spun off into a new company called Ralcorp Holdings. In 1998, Ralston Purina spun off its international animal feed business as Agribrands which was acquired by Cargill in 2001. The animal feed businesses continue to use the Purina and Chow brands which Purina Mills and Cargill license for use in the US and internationally, respectively.

Ralston Purina became the subject of an acquisition bid by Swiss-based Nestlé, whose Friskies brand was the other leading US brand of pet food. Nestlé S.A. and Ralston Purina announced in January 2001 a definitive merger agreement. Under the agreement, Nestlé acquired all of Ralston Purina's (NYSE: RAL) outstanding shares for US$33.50 per share in cash. The offer represented a premium of 36% over the closing price on Friday, January 12, 2001. The transaction had an enterprise value of US$10.3 billion ($10.0 billion equity plus $1.2 billion of net debt, minus $0.9 billion of financial investments).


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