Further to earlier statements regarding the divestment of its dairy activities the Executive Board of Koninklijke Wessanen nv, the international food group, announces the following:


  • US dairy companies to be sold to National Dairy Holdings L.P. for USD 400 million
  • Adverse European investment climate due to foot and mouth disease puts sales process for Leerdammer Company on hold

Marigold Foods and Crowley Foods to be sold to National Dairy Holdings L.P. for USD 400 million

The Executive Board of KoninklijkeWessanen nv announces that is has executed definitive agreements to sell its dairy operations to National Dairy Holdings L.P., Dallas, Texas, USA, for USD 400 million, subject to certain closing adjustments. Crowley Foods Inc., Binghamton, New York, and Marigold Foods Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, are leading regional dairy producers in the Northeast and Midwestern United States, respectively.

The combined annual sales of Marigold Foods and Crowley Foods amounted to about USD 1 billion in 2000.

The Boards of both Wessanen and National Dairy Holdings have approved the transactions, which are subject to customary closing conditions including regulatory approvals.

The divestment of Crowley Foods and Marigold Foods is a key part of Wessanen’s ongoing strategic focus on its core natural, health and specialty foods operations. The proceeds will be deployed to continue expansion in this high growth market and to complement recent acquisitions such as Distriborg, BOAS, Zonnatura, Food for Health, and the participation in Natudis.

National Dairy Holdings is a strategic partnership between leading US dairy industry participants and Dairy Farmers of America, Inc., the largest dairy farmer-owned marketing cooperative in the United States. The acquisitions will provide the opportunity for Crowley Foods and Marigold Foods to become a cornerstone of a premier US dairy operation and to continue their tradition of operational excellence and leadership in target markets.

Assuming timely receipt of regulatory approval, the transactions are expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2001.

Sales process of Leerdammer Company on hold in view of Foot and Mouth Disease

In view of the adverse investment climate in the European dairy industry due to Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) we have decided to put the sales process of the Leerdammer Company on hold.

Whilst sales in the first quarter of 2001 are performing in line with expected growth and the consequences of the FMD on the business so far have been very limited, Wessanen believes that a disposal process at this stage would unduly suffer because of this adverse investment climate.

Putting on hold the sales process of Leerdammer Company does not represent a change in corporate strategy.

The successful implementation of Leerdammer’s growth strategy will be continued and strongly supported by Wessanen.

Prospects

We maintain our outlook for 2001 as announced during the presentation of the annual figures of 2000. We expect a growth in operating result from the current activities (exclusive the dairy activities) of at least 15% and earnings per share from ordinary activities before amortization of goodwill to be at least equal to 2000. As announced earlier, this takes into account our intention of a possible share buy back.

The announcement made for the first half 2001 of a growth in net earnings from ordinary activities of between 3 and 5% as compared to 2000 will not be impacted by the above mentioned dairy developments.

The extraordinary income on the sale of the US dairy activities will be announced after the completion of the transactions.

    Executive Board
Koninklijke Wessanen nv

Koninklijke Wessanen nv is a Dutch-based multinational which produces, distributes and markets natural, healthy and specialty foods. Wessanen generates annual sales of EUR 3.9 billion. Shares of Koninklijke Wessanen NV are quoted on the stock exchanges in Amsterdam, London, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and EBS Switzerland. Sponsored ADRs are traded in the United States.