Weston Wins Unilever’s Baking Business

20 February 2001

Anglo-Dutch consumer goods colossus Unilever yesterday announced the $1.76 billion sale of its US baked foods interests – acquired in last year’s purchase of Bestfoods – to Canadian food manufacturer and retailer George Weston.

The all-cash deal gives Weston brands such as Entenmanns cakes, Thomas’ English muffins and Arnolds bread. It will also significantly raise its presence in the US, where it has so far been a relatively small player with its Girl Scout cookies. The baking division posted sales of $1.7bn last year, with EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes and amortization) predicted at $205 million.

Weston’s triumph against rival bidders such as Sara Lee, Earthgrains and Bimbo de Mexico came as a surprise to many analysts, who did not believe the Canadian company wanted the entire range of the Bestfoods business.

The sale brings the value of Unilever’s disposals since the Bestfoods purchase to $3.65bn.

News source: Financial Times