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George Weston Gets OK for Bestfoods

July 31, 2001|Reuters

Canadian food conglomerate George Weston Ltd. completed its $1.77-billion purchase of Unilever's Bestfoods Baking Co. after making concessions in the market for sliced white bread to satisfy U.S. antitrust concerns.

The companies agreed to transfer to third parties the exclusive licenses to market and brand Sunbeam bread products in Philadelphia, southern New Jersey and parts of upstate New York to address concerns that the deal would cut competition for fresh, commercially packaged, sliced white bread there, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Weston said it also would explore opportunities to sell the Oroweat brand and six bakeries in California, Texas, Colorado and Oregon.

The Philadelphia license will be transferred to St. Louis-based Interstate Bakeries Inc., the maker of Wonder Bread. Lepage Bakeries of Lewiston, Maine, which owns Country Kitchen and Baker's Select brands, will acquire the New York licenses.

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