Bimbo Buys Sara Lee's Bread Business

Sara Lee Corp. is selling its North American Fresh Bakery unit to Grupo Bimbo for an enterprise value of $959 million.

Sara Lee Corp., Downers Grove, Ill., is selling its North American fresh bakery unit to baking company Grupo BimboSAB de C.V. for $959 million, as it aims to concentrate more on its coffee and meat businesses.

Sara Lee reportedly began asking for bids early this summer for the business. The maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Sara Lee breads said Nov. 9 that the sale will allow it to aggressively expand other businesses through acquisitions and other means. The transaction, which includes 41 U.S. plants, allows Sara Lee to keep the right to sell Sara Lee brand frozen desserts and meat products, such as sliced deli meats.

Grupo Bimbo will have rights to the Sara Lee brand in fresh baked goods globally, excluding Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. About 13,000 employees will be transferred.

The deal gives Grupo Bimbo 41 additional plants in the United States and about 4,700 delivery routes. It already has 39 plants in the United States and 98 worldwide. The business accounted for about $2.1 billion in adjusted net sales and $38 million in adjusted income in the year ended Oct. 2. Besides the Sara Lee brand, the acquisition also gives Bimbo regional brands, including Grandma Sycamore’s, Heinter’s and Rainbo.

Grupo Bimbo, based in Mexico City, is considered the world’s largest bread baker in the United States and Central America. Its 2009 revenue was $8.6 billion. Its brands include Bimbo bread and Lara cookies and crackers.

The deal is expected to close first half of 2011.

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