CHICAGO – One Equity Partners, the private investment arm of JPMorgan Chase & Co., has agreed to acquire East Balt Inc., a Chicago-based baking company focused principally on supplying quick-service restaurant customers.
Terms of the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals and normal closing conditions, were not disclosed.
“East Balt is a quality and service leader, and O.E.P. is excited to help the company grow with its valued customers,” said Thomas Kichler, managing director of One Equity.
According to the 2012 Baking Directory & Buyers Guide, East Balt operates two U.S. baking plants – one in Denver and the second in Chicago. The company is regarded as the most “international” of all U.S.-based baking companies, with a total of 20 baking plants in 12 countries spanning four continents.
“We are pleased to be entering into a new chapter in East Balt's history,” said Frank Kuchuris, chairman and chief executive officer. “We believe that this partnership will create exciting opportunities for our company, our customers, and our employees. My management team looks forward to working with One Equity Partners to build a world-class enterprise."
East Balt’s product portfolio includes buns, bagels, biscuits, English muffins, tortillas and breads.
The company’s roots date to 1939 when Louis Kuchuris, Frank’s father, acquired Mary Ann, a bankrupt bakery on the northwest side of Chicago that produced a line of bread, rolls, buns and pastries. Under the ownership of Mr. Kuchuris, Mary Ann serviced restaurants, snack shops, drive-ins, hotels, schools and caterers.
The course of the business changed in 1955 when, on a handshake with Ray Kroc, Mr. Kuchuris agreed to begin supplying buns to Chicago-area McDonald’s restaurants owned by the emerging fast food pioneer.
In 1969, Mr. Kuchuris built East Balt Commissary, an automatic bun bakery that exclusively serviced 40 McDonald’s in the Chicago area.
Mr. Kuchuris died on his 70th birthday, July 16, 1983. In 2009 he was elected to the Baking Hall of Fame.
O.E.P. manages more than $14 billion in commitments and investments solely for JPMorgan Chase.
Established in 2001, the group enters into long-term partnerships with companies “to create sustainable value through long-term growth driven both organically and inorganically.” East Balt is the only O.E.P. portfolio business in the baking business.