Grupo Bimbo sales grew by 7.9% to MXN14.78bn (US$1.33bn) on the back of solid US and Latin America operations in 2006 following the integration of new acquisitions El Globo and Chocolates la Corona.

Operating income rose 5.1% reflecting a slower rate of growth with respect to previous quarters, due to increases in raw material prices, packaging and energy, as well as in indirect production costs.

But majority net income for the baking company rose 13.6% due primarily to a reduction in the comprehensive cost of financing.

Grupo Bimbo confirmed it would acquire the Beijing Panrico Food Processing Center, a subsidiary of Spanish company Panrico, located in China, for EUR9.2m, in the next two months.

The company also said its net debt continued to decrease in the first quarter of 2006, totaling $3.46bn, 17.4% less than in the same period of last year.