Reuters – Barilla to sell German bakery chain Lieken

Barilla, the world’s biggest pasta maker, said on Tuesday it was looking to sell its only remaining German business, bakery chain Lieken AG, as the company increases its focus on pasta and higher-margin food products. The Italian food group bought Duesseldorf-based Lieken in 2002 as part of its acquisition of another bakery chain, Kamps, which it sold to private equity firm ECM in August 2010.

(Reuters) – Barilla, the world’s biggest pasta maker, said on Tuesday it was looking to sell its only remaining German business, bakery chain Lieken AG, as the company increases its focus on pasta and higher-margin food products.

 

The Italian food group bought Duesseldorf-based Lieken in 2002 as part of its acquisition of another bakery chain, Kamps, which it sold to private equity firm ECM in August 2010.

 

While mergers and acquisitions have ground to a near halt in crisis-hit Italy, Germany is still attracting investors as the euro zone’s strongest economy.

 

Lieken, a German market leader in bread making and a maker of baked goods under the Golden Toast brand, employs 4,700 people and had net sales of 756 million euros ($951.02 million)in 2011.

 

Barilla mentioned the company’s focus on low-margin private label products, which supermarket chains sell under their own brand name, as one of the reasons behind the planned disposal.

 

“Going forward the group’s priority is to invest in our core business, concentrating on pasta, sauces and ready-made meals on a worldwide level, from America to the far east,” Chairman Guido Barilla said in a statement.

 

Barilla has appointed British bank Rothschild and Dutch lender Rabobank to find potential suitors.

 

The company will continue to sell its other products in Germany, where it made 140 million euros in net sales from its own brands in 2011.

 

Parma-based Barilla, founded 135 years ago, produces around 2.5 million tonnes of food every year, and exports to more than 100 countries.

 

Italy is the world’s largest pasta producer. It made more than 3 million tonnes of pasta in 2011 and provides around two-thirds of Europe’s supply according to figures from the International Pasta Organisation.

 

($1 = 0.7949 euros) (Reporting by Philip Baillie; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)