| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, JULY 30, 2001
TDD: (202) 514-1888
WESTON RESTRUCTURES ACQUISITION OF BESTFOODS BAKING CO. TO
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Justice today announced that George Weston Ltd. ("Weston") and Unilever NV have agreed to transfer their exclusive licenses to market and produce the Sunbeam brand of fresh bread products in Philadelphia, southern New Jersey, and parts of upstate New York in order to resolve antitrust concerns raised by Weston's acquisition of Bestfoods Baking Co. ("Bestfoods") from Unilever NV. Weston will acquire the remaining businesses of Bestfoods and will retain its existing Sunbeam licenses in other parts of Pennsylvania and New York.
According to the Department, the acquisition as initially proposed would have led to a loss of important head-to-head competition for fresh commercially packaged sliced white bread products in Philadelphia, southern New Jersey and portions of upstate New York. Each firm was a significant competitor in the areas dominated by the other. Under the restructuring, licenses to the Sunbeam brand will be transferred to third parties who currently hold Sunbeam licenses in other areas and are expected to maintain and grow the Sunbeam brand.
"This divestiture will ensure that consumers will continue to receive the benefits of competition -- lower prices for white bread, a staple for many American families, " said Charles A. James, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division. "By divesting the Sunbeam licenses, competition will be maintained in upstate New York, Philadelphia and southern New Jersey."
The Philadelphia license will be transferred to Interstate Bakeries, Inc., of St Louis, Missouri, the nation's largest bakery and owner of the Wonder Bread brand. Lepage Bakeries, Inc., of Lewiston, Maine will acquire the New York licenses. Lepage is a large regional bakery in New England that owns the Country Kitchen and Baker's Select brands.
Weston, a Canadian corporation, is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario and provides food processing and food distribution across Canada and the United States. Weston's bakery operations that are related to this restructuring are conducted by Stroehmann Bakeries, L.C., of Easton, Pennsylvania. Unilever, NV acquired Bestfoods Baking, a New York corporation that is headquartered in Bay Shore, New York, in October 2000. Bestfoods' bakery operations that are related to this restructuring are conducted by Charles Freihofer, Inc., of Albany, New York.