Industry News & Links

January 3, 2011

Sara Lee Bakery Unit Goes to Bimbo

Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest breadmaker, agreed to buy Sara Lee Corp.’s North American bakery business for $959 million to boost sales outside Mexico.

The transaction, which includes the right to the Sara Lee brand for bakery goods in the United States and regional brands such as Heiner’s and Rainbo, will probably close during the first half of 2011, Mexico’s Bimbo said Tuesday.

Bimbo, which makes Entenmann’s cakes, Thomas’ English Muffins and Mrs. Baird’s breads, gets most of its sales in Mexico. Buying the Sara Lee unit may help make the United States Bimbo’s largest market, building on its $2.5 billion purchase of George Weston Ltd.’s U.S. baking operations last year.

“This is good news for Bimbo, especially because they reached an agreement at a lower price than speculated,” said Rogelio Gallegos, who helps manage about $575 million in equities at Actinver SA in Mexico City. “Bimbo has the expertise for this transaction and is becoming a major global player.”

Sara Lee’s North American bread unit faces increasing competition from cheaper store brands and regional bakeries. The division’s sales dropped 3.1 percent to $2.1 billion in the year that ended Oct. 2, Sara Lee said Tuesday. The company said that the sale will help drive growth in its coffee and meat businesses.

Bimbo will have the right to sell Sara Lee fresh-baked goods globally, except in Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The Sara Lee business includes about 13,000 employees, 41 plants and 4,800 distribution routes.

“This does mark the end of a dark chapter in Sara Lee’s history,” Christopher Growe, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus in St. Louis, said Tuesday in a note to investors. “Divesting itself of these slower-growth, very low-margin businesses should improve the overall growth and margin profile of the company.”

Bimbo said it will use its own cash and tap credit lines to finance the transaction.

Bimbo plans to invest $1 billion in the next five years in the U.S. manufacturing and distribution program to improve efficiency, said Gary Prince, president of Bimbo Bakeries USA.

Sara Lee posted a 32 percent drop in first-quarter profit on Tuesday. Net income fell to $192 million (29 cents per share). Excluding some items, profit was 21 cents per share, and earnings from continuing operations on that basis were 13 cents. Analysts had projected earnings of 18 cents.

–SFGate.com

Frank Sinatra’s Shirt Purchased for $5 at a Yard Sale Being Auction to the Highest Bidder Today

A tuxedo shirt tailor-made for Frank Sinatra and purchased for $5 at a Newport Beach yard sale last year will sell to the highest bidder at a California auction onJan. 1.It is unclear how the shirt, created by Beverly Hillsmen’s clothier Nat Wise, came into the possession of the person conducting the yard sale, but what is indisputable is that the garment is authentic.

“The shirt was purchased at the yard sale by a gentleman named Rick Gorski, who is a laid-off construction worker,” said auctioneer Don Presley, who will offer the Sinatra shirt and other celebrity items in a 600-lot auction this weekend. “Mr. Gorski’s brother, who collects antiques, examined the shirt’s labels and urged Mr. Gorski to research the shirt’s background. He knew its value would be greatly increased if it could be proved genuine.”

Several labels on the shirttail led Gorski straight to the source of the information he desired. The tags bore the name “Frank Sinatra,” the date “Feb. 1987″ and the name and logo for “Nat Wise of London…Sunset Strip, Calif.”

Gorski discovered that in 1987, Nat Wise had merged with Jack Sepetjian’s company, Anto Beverly Hills. All Nat Wise archival records were transferred to the new owners.

In those archives, Sepetjian found records for the Sinatra shirt that Gorski now owned. “The shirt’s measurements exactly matched the ones on record for Mr. Sinatra,” said Presley. “Apparently he wore the shirt to a widely publicized 1988 benefit concert.”

Presley said he has “no clue” how much the shirt will sell for. “Nowadays, when something as intangible as a Marilyn Monroe X-ray can sell for $45,000, it’s anybody’s guess,” Presley said.

Speaking of Monroe, a two-piece ensemble that purportedly belonged to the star is another featured lot in the auction, but it’s not without its controversy. The outfit was formerly the property of Robert Slatzer, the late Hollywood biographer and newspaper reporter who claimed he and Monroe were wed in 1952. Till his death in 2005, Slatzer insisted his story was true and claimed studio bosses had forced him and Monroe to annul their marriage only days after exchanging vows in Mexico. The ensemble has a label from 20th Century Fox, the studio to which Monroe was contracted at the time of the alleged wedding.

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