Sankaty Advisors invests in major matzah baker

by Josh Sosland
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NEWARK, N.J. — Sankaty Advisors, an affiliate of Bain Capital L.L.C., has made a strategic investment in Manischewitz, the largest matzah baker in the world.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Sankaty is the credit affiliate of Bain and a leading private manager of fixed income and credit instruments globally.

Mark Weinstein has been named interim chief executive officer of Manischewitz. Mr. Weinstein is senior managing director of FTI Consulting in Boston. A turnaround specialist, Mr. Weinstein’s experience includes work with a number of well-known companies outside the food space. Clients have included Sirius Satellite Radio, Sands hotel and casino and Filenes Basement and Sportsman’s Warehouse.

“This investment reflects our confidence in the Manischewitz brands and team,” Sankaty Advisors said in a statement. “Manischewitz has earned a position as one of the most highly recognized brands in the world, and it has distinguished itself through a passionate commitment to producing the highest quality kosher products possible. We believe Manischewitz is well positioned to grow due to rising mainstream interest in kosher foods.”

Yaakov Horowitz of the Orthodox Union, head Rabbi at Manischewitz, added, “This transaction will allow Manischewitz to continue its storied tradition of producing the highest quality kosher products, which have delighted consumers the world over for more than 125 years. It will also enable the company to maintain its position as the world’s most iconic purveyor of kosher food. The Manischewitz group of brands are a large part of the social fabric of the global Jewish and kosher community, and they continue to represent the innovation and spirit of the company’s founder Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz.”

In addition to its position as the world’s largest matzah baker, Manischewitz is the largest maker of processed kosher foods in the United States. Its other products include baked foods, pasta, soup, gefilte fish, grape juice, wine and beet borscht. Its products are sold under the Manischewitz, Horowitz Margareten, Goodman’s and Season brands.

The company was established in 1888 in Cincinnati with the opening of a small matzah bakery by Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz.

According to a company history, Rabbi Manischewitz was credited with a number of baking innovations in the matzah field, including shifting to gas-fired ovens rather than coal ovens that were most commonly used by matzah bakers.

“He also introduced portable traveling-tunnel ovens, and was the first to package his matzahs for shipment to places beyond the immediate neighborhood of his bakery,” the company said. “He even began shipping his matzahs overseas, to such diverse places as England, Japan, France, Hungary, Egypt and New Zealand. His bright, clean bakery would become a model for future kosher bakeries, both in America and abroad.”

A second plant was opened in 1932 in Jersey City, N.J. (the Cincinnati plant was later closed), and in 1954 the company acquired a food processing plant in Vineland, N.J.
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