Bob Evans Farms got an offer it couldn't refuse.

The prepared-foods company based in New Albany recently was purchased by Post Holdings, a food conglomerate headquartered in St. Louis, for $1.53 billion.

The deal follows the sale of Bob Evans Restaurants to private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital for $565 million earlier this year.

Although Bob Evans no longer is locally owned, its headquarters isn't going anywhere, according to company officials.

"We will be here in Columbus," said Bob Evans CEO Mike Townsley. "Post is committed to keeping Bob Evans here in Columbus."

The New Albany headquarters has 109 Bob Evans Farms employees and 191 Bob Evans Restaurants employees, for a total of 300 full-time employees, Bob Evans spokeswoman Elizabeth Sedlock said.

New Albany officials were encouraged that Bob Evans would remain local and that its leaders would continue to be involved with the company, said city spokesman Scott McAfee.

"We're looking forward to being able to continue that relationship," he said.

The full-time jobs remaining in town are important, too, as 80 percent of New Albany's general-fund revenue is drawn from local income taxes, McAfee said.

Some changes are coming, though, as Post consolidates some functions and operations. Post's Michaels Foods division, which includes a refrigerated retail side-dish business and a food-service, or restaurant sales component, will merge with Bob Evans.

The Michaels Foods retail brands, which include side dishes under the Simply brand, liquid eggs, cheeses and other products, will be folded under the Bob Evans umbrella and Townsley will continue to lead the Bob Evans retail business.

However, Bob Evans' food-services division, which sells to Bob Evans restaurants, will be managed by the team at Michaels Foods.

Bob Evans' five manufacturing plants will remain in Ohio, Texas, Michigan and Maine.

Due to the expansion of brands under his management, Townsley said, he sees Bob Evans growing in central Ohio, not shrinking.

"There is a very strong likelihood that over time, there could be more jobs," he said.

With the addition of new brands to manage, Bob Evans will become a more than $1 billion company inside Post, Townsley said, more than double the size of the standalone Bob Evans foods division.

"It's all great news," Townsley said. "Post is really focused on growth."

Post will pay $77 per Bob Evans share, a 5.6 percent premium to the company's Sept. 18 closing price of $72.93.

Post leaders said the acquisition would enhance its refrigerated side-dish offerings and add sausage to its product portfolio.

"We have enormous respect for Bob Evans' success and are excited about the growth opportunities this combination will create," said Rob Vitale, Post's president and CEO. "Combining with Bob Evans expands our portfolio of top brands and gives Post a leading position in the perimeter of the store."

The boards of both companies have approved the sale, which is targeted to close in early 2018.

Bob Evans' shareholders still must sign off on the deal. Shares of Bob Evans Farms Inc. jumped more than 5 percent in morning trading Sept. 19.

Although other companies such as Hormel or Kraft Heinz could try to swoop in and outbid Post, that scenario is unlikely, said Stephen Anderson, an analyst with Maxim Group.

"We do not believe a potential suitor would be willing to pay much more," Anderson said.

He said Post is paying a multiple of about 15 times earnings before interest and taxes, on the high end of similar recent transactions.

ThisWeek reporter Sarah Sole contributed to this story.

jmalone@dispatch.com

@j_d_malone