Bellisio Foods Inc. on Wednesday said that it has agreed to buy Vernon frozen foods supplier Overhill Farms Inc. for about $81 million in cash.

Overhill Farms makes branded and private-label products for retail and institutional food service customers, including Panda Restaurant Group Inc., Safeway Inc. and American Airlines Inc. Minneapolis-based Bellisio is considered the nation's third-largest producer of frozen entrees. The companies have partnered through an exclusive agreement over the past two years to produce and distribute frozen meals under the Boston Market restaurant brand.

"We believe that Overhill's brand portfolio and West Coast manufacturing presence enables us to unlock meaningful synergies and better serve existing and new customers through expanded capabilities and a broader offering," Bellisio Chief Executive Joel Conner said in a statement.

Shareholders will receive $5 a share in cash, 15 percent premium to Overhill Farms' Tuesday closing price.

Cordoba Asset LLC, a shareholder, wrote to the company's board in March, contending that management was not maximizing shareholder value and urged the company to sell itself. The company responded that it had been considering strategic alternatives for "a number of months."

In midday trading, Overhill shares were up 60 cents, or 14 percent, to $4.96 on the NYSE MKT exchange.

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