George Weston Limited has netted $3.3 billion from its October sale of Neilson Dairy to Saputo Inc. ($390 million after tax) and its December sale of its U.S. fresh bread and baked goods business (US$2.5 billion) to Grupo Bimbo. “We intend to use the cash wisely at the appropriate time,” says chairman and president W.G. Galen Weston.
The U.S. bakery assets held through Weston subsidiary Dunedin Holdings include the Arnold, Brownberry, Entenmann’s, Freihofer, Stroemann and Thomas’ brand names. They contributed US$2.2 billion in sales and US$255 million in operating earnings in the 52 weeks ended Oct. 4, 2008. Grupo Bimbo of Mexico, with US$6.6 billion in fiscal 2007 sales, is the largest baker in Mexico.
Weston will report a significant gain on disposal of the U.S. assets since it first acquired them in 2001 from Best Foods. Dunedin will retain its other U.S. interests, including Interbake Foods, which produces biscuits, cookies, cones and wafers, and Maplehurst Bakeries, which produces and distributes frozen bakery products.