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Mexico's Grupo Bimbo to Buy 5 U.S. Bakeries

January 23, 2002|MELINDA FULMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mexico's Grupo Bimbo, the world's third-largest bread maker, said Tuesday that it will acquire five U.S. bakeries from Canada's George Weston Ltd. in a move that will double Bimbo's U.S. operations. .

The $610-million deal--including bakeries in Montebello and near San Francisco--will bring the number of plants Bimbo owns north of the border to 17. Bimbo also gets exclusive rights in the U.S. to Oroweat bread and Entenmann's baked goods, brands popular in the western U.S.

Bimbo also will get Western distribution rights to Thomas' English Muffins and Boboli pizza kits.

"This acquisition fits perfectly with our vision of creating a pre-eminent baking business in the United States," Bimbo Chief Executive Daniel Servitje said.

The Mexico City-based company has begun to make major inroads in the long-entrenched U.S. baking business, buying up Mrs. Baird's Bakeries and Four-S Bakeries in California in recent years.

After the acquisition, about $1.2billion in revenue--more than a third of the company's total--will come from its U.S. operations.

George Weston is selling the western U.S. business to pay down debt from its Bestfoods baking acquisition and to focus on its core brands in the northeastern U.S.

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