Maple Leaf launches auction of Canada Bread

Canadian food processing company Maple Leaf Foods Inc has started the auction for its 90 per cent stake in Canada Bread, a Toronto-based company that has a market value of $1.68 billion.

Maple Leaf, which this week agreed to sell its fresh pasta and sauce business Olivieri Foods to Spain's Ebro Foods for $120 million, said on Monday that it is exploring strategic alternatives for its stake in Canada Bread Company.

Toronto-based Maple Leaf has recently completed a review to accelerate profitable growth across its global Bakery business, which it conducts through its 90 per cent owned subsidiary, Canada Bread.

Maple Leaf's board and management had decided to explore other strategic alternatives, including a sale of its interests in Canada Bread, a process that is expected to conclude in early 2014.

In the event of a sale, Maple Leaf has said it would use the proceeds to pay down debt, reinvest in its business and return capital to shareholders.

Royal Bank of Canada and Centerview Partners, which have been hired to conduct the auction, have contacted Mexico's Bimbo as well as some of the world's largest private equity firms, including KKR & Co and Apollo Global Management, Reuters today reported, citing several people familiar with the matter.

Canada Bread is a leading manufacturer of value-added flour based products, including fresh bread, rolls, bagels and sweet goods, frozen partially baked or par-baked breads and bagels, and specialty pasta and sauces.

The Toronto Stock Exchange-listed company markets products under a number of leading brand names, including Dempster's, Olafson's, POM, Ben's and Olivieri.

 Maple Leaf is a leading food processing company employing around 19,500 people at its operations across Canada and in the US, the UK and Asia.