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Sara Lee divests of North American bakery unit

Sara Lee sells North American bakery unit to Mexican food business Grupo Bimbo for US$959 million.


Downers Grove, Ill.-based Sara Lee Corp. is selling its bakery division in North America to Mexican food business Grupo Bimbo for US$959 million. The company says the sale will allow it to instead focus on its meat and coffee businesses, as well as future acquisitions.

The deal includes 41 U.S. processing facilities, and gives Mexico City-based Grupo Bimbo the rights to the Sara Lee brand of fresh baked goods around the world except in Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Sara Lee will retain the rights to sell Sara Lee brand frozen desserts and meat products. About 13,000 employees will be affected by the acquisition.

Grupo Bimbo is Mexico’s largest food company, and is a major baked goods manufacturer in the U.S. and Central America, with annual sales of approximately $8.6 billion. In 2009 the company acquired Toronto-based George Weston Ltd.’s U.S. fresh baked goods division for US$2.5 billion.

The Mexican company says it plans to invest more than $1 billion in the U.S. in the next five years adding bakeries, and improving existing plants, infrastructure and technology.