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Investment Firm Yucaipa Buys Auto Parts Supplier

August 31, 2004|Julie Tamaki | Times Staff Writer

Yucaipa Cos., Los Angeles investor Ron Burkle's private equity firm, said Monday that it had purchased TDS Logistics Inc., a Canadian supplier of parts to some of the world's biggest automakers.

The purchase was completed last week at an estimated price of $300 million, people familiar with the deal said.

TDS manages the flow of parts from various suppliers and delivers them to auto assembly plants. The company also ships completed vehicles to dealerships of Ford Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler, General Motors Corp., Volkswagen and BMW.

Founded in 1941, TDS employs 5,000 workers in nine countries, including the U.S., Canada and Germany. Three years ago, it opened a parts operation in China, the fastest-growing auto market, for BMW. In 2002, TDS estimated its annual sales at $220 million.

"TDS has long been an innovative leader in automotive logistics and is well positioned for growth," Burkle said in a statement.

A Yucaipa spokesman said TDS would move its headquarters from London, Canada, to Atlanta.

Burkle is best-known for cutting deals in the grocery business in the 1990s, buying and merging supermarkets such as Alpha Beta, Food 4 Less and Ralphs. Those deals made Burkle one of California's wealthiest investors; Forbes magazine pegs his net worth at $1.8 billion.

In February, Burkle sold his stake in Irvine-based Golden State Foods, a supplier to fast-food giant McDonald's Corp., for about $110 million, more than tripling his money in a little more than five years. The same month, he announced a deal to acquire the Baton Rouge, La.-based Piccadilly Cafeteria chain out of Bankruptcy Court for about $80 million.

A supporter of Democratic candidates, Burkle hosted fundraisers in the spring that netted $3 million for Sen. John F. Kerry.

Burkle's investment portfolio is eclectic. It includes a stake in hip-hop impresario Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' clothing brand, Sean John, as well as in Alliance Entertainment Corp., a recorded music distributor based in Coral Springs, Fla.

Yucaipa has completed mergers and acquisitions totaling more than $30 billion since its founding in 1986.

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