Prince: B.B.U. divestitures to be finalized any day
BakingBusiness.com, April 30, 2012
by Josh Sosland

MEXICO CITY — The sale by Grupo Bimbo S.A.B. de C.V. of certain U.S. baking properties, in accordance with an agreement with the Department of Justice, will be announced any day, said Gary Prince, president and chief executive officer of Bimbo Bakeries USA.

Mr. Prince commented April 27 on the prospective divestures. He participated in a conference call with investment analysts after Bimbo released first-quarter earnings. He said he expected certain of the transactions to be announced almost immediately with others to follow.

“All the deals that we have on the properties are sitting with the government today for final approval,” Mr. Prince said. “They’re in that process. It takes a little bit of time. It’s taking longer, frankly, than we had anticipated. But we expect approval on two of those properties within a couple of days and the other properties shortly thereafter. Then we will get into the executional phase.

“But, consistent with what I had said in New York, the approval is taking a little longer as it goes through the different layers of the government. But I anticipate it within days.”

In October 2011, Bimbo and the D.O.J. reached an agreement allowing Bimbo’s acquisition of the North American Fresh bakery business of Sara Lee Corp. to go forward. Under the agreement, Bimbo is required to divest certain brands and related assets and routes in specified markets.

In particular, Bimbo is divesting the Sara Lee and EarthGrains brands in California and smaller brands in the Harrisburg/Scranton region of Pennsylvania and the Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Omaha metropolitan areas. The smaller brands include Sara Lee’s EarthGrains brand and B.B.U.’s Mrs Baird’s brand in the Kansas City area; Sara Lee’s EarthGrains brand in the Oklahoma City area; Sara Lee’s EarthGrains and Healthy Choice brands in the Omaha area; and Sara Lee’s Holsum and Milano brands in the Harrisburg/Scranton area.

Asked whether proceeds of the transactions will be disclosed, Mr. Prince said, “They’re not material to the total, but we will.”