Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a report on Thursday that a leveraged buyout (LBO) of Sara Lee Corp. could lead to the new owner selling the company’s meat division to JBS SA. Reuters reports that the return on a potential LBO of Sara Lee could rise significantly if buyout firms bought the entire company and then sold its meat business to a strategic investor, the analysts said. JBS could pay about $4 billion for Sara Lee's meat division, they added.

"We think if this were to happen, JBS could bid for Sara Lee's meat division, as such an acquisition would be more feasible in size ... and they would presumably not need to sell the coffee business afterward," wrote Merrill Lynch analysts Fernando Ferreira and Isabella Simonato in the report.

It was recently reported that a group of buyout firms led by Apollo Global Management could bid for Sara Lee soon, with a price around $18.75 to $19 a share. Spokespeople for JBS and Apollo declined to comment when sought out by Reuters. Sara Lee shares were up 10 cents to $18.28 in afternoon New York Stock Exchange dealings.

Source: Reuters

OSHA fines company $212,000 for endangering workers

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued the Bridgford Foods Processing Corp. facility in Chicago 10 safety citations for failing to implement and provide training for workers on lockout/tagout procedures, thereby exposing them to energized equipment. The meat processing plant is facing proposed penalties of $212,000.

"By failing to train employees and enforce lockout/tagout procedures, Bridgford Foods placed employees in danger of serious injury from equipment that was not properly de-energized," said Gary Anderson, OSHA's area director in Calumet City, Ill. "OSHA is committed to ensuring that workers are provided a safe and healthful workplace."

As a result of a July 2010 OSHA inspection, Bridgford Foods Processing has been issued one willful citation, with a proposed penalty of $70,000, for allowing workers to remove a shovel stuck in an auger screw conveyor without locking or tagging out the auger, placing employees in danger of the machine operating while they worked to remove the shovel. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Bridgford Foods Processing also has been issued six repeat citations, with proposed fines of $135,000, for having locked exit doors, failing to provide lockout/tagout or electrical safety training, failing to provide a load backrest extension on a powered industrial truck to minimize the hazard of material falling and failing to specifically outline energy control procedures. OSHA issues a repeat citation when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Additionally, two serious citations have been issued for failing to perform periodic energy control inspections and to maintain unobstructed exit routes. Those citations carry penalties of $7,000. An OSHA violation is serious when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

One other-than-serious citation has been issued for failing to properly illuminate exit signs. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

Bridgford Foods' Chicago facility has been inspected by OSHA three times since November 2007, resulting in 29 health and safety citations. The company is headquartered in Anaheim, Calif., and also operates two factories in Dallas, Texas, and one in Statesville, N.C.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Source: OSHA

Hillshire Farms seeking Most Wanted Sandwich

Hillshire Farm has launched its “Most Wanted Sandwich” competition, serving up 15 unique sandwich recipes that highlight the innovative and endless ways moms across America are using Hillshire Farm lunchmeat. Consumers can now sign on towww.gomeat.comand cast their vote for America’s “Most Wanted Sandwich” and also receive $2 in Hillshire Farm coupons.

Hillshire Farm selected 15 highly influential bloggers, known as the Hillshire Farm “Fresh 15.” These top bloggers, who are also multi-tasking moms, were charged with creating a delicious sandwich – drawing upon the local flavors of their hometown for inspiration – incorporating premium quality and great tasting Hillshire Farm lunchmeat to create the ultimate sandwich that takes lunch from the ordinary to extraordinary.

“As kids are returning to school and moms look to liven up lunch, we’re excited to inspire her with these great recipes created by the Hillshire Farm ‘Fresh 15’ for the America’s ‘Most Wanted Sandwich’ competition,” said Tim Roush, vice president lunch and dinner, Sara Lee North American Retail. “These women share the same passion for serving their families high quality, fresh tasting lunchmeat that Hillshire Farm is known for, and have brought their creativity to mealtime with sandwiches that not only reflect the local flavors of their hometowns but that have been taste-tested and approved by their families. I look forward to seeing which sandwich America names ‘Most Wanted Sandwich’ because they’re all winners in my book.”

The 15 sandwiches competing for the Hillshire Farm “Most Wanted Sandwich” title can all be found at Upon casting a vote, consumers will receive $2 in Hillshire Farm coupons. Consumers can begin voting for their favorite sandwich recipe on January 14, 2011 and can continue voting once a day until the contest closes on March 20, 2011. The “Fresh 15” member whose recipe receives the winning title of “Most Wanted Sandwich” will receive a cash prize of $5,000 and a $5,000 donation made by Hillshire Farm to the charity of the winner’s choice.

The entries include the “Windy City Winter Warmer,” “Sweet & Tangy Texas BBQ” and “The Historic Virginia Stacker.”

Source: Sara Lee Corp.

Former Americold CEO dies

George A. (Tony) Schnug, an executive in the retail and warehousing industry, died unexpectedly at his home in La Quinta, CA on Monday, January 10, 2011 at the age of 65. Currently on the board of Floor-to-Ceiling, West Coast Cold LLC, Digital on Demand and an advisor to Bay Grove Capital, Mr. Schnug had a long career in the food industry.

Most recently he served as CEO for Americold Realty Trust, the nation’s largest provider of temperature controlled warehousing and logistics to the food industry from 2004 until 2008. Bill Hudson, President and CEO of the Global Cold Chain Alliance stated, "This industry has benefitted from Tony's involvement because he saw the value in the growth of our industry and the benefits of members working together through our association. He was a great visionary and saw the importance of the refrigerated industry in the food supply chain."

Schnug worked for Americold in conjunction with his involvement with the Yucaipa Companies, where he was a partner for portfolio company management for more than fifteen years. Jos Opdeweegh, current CEO of Americold and former operating partner at the Yucaipa companies, stated “The Americold and Yucaipa families lost a leader and friend. He will be missed.”

While affiliated with the Yucaipa Companies, he also held positions with Alliance Entertainment, Piccadilly Cafeterias and Source Interlink.  In 1999, he was a founding partner of SLS Construction a general contractor that emphasized retail development. From 1990 through 1999 he held senior executive positions with various related retail companies including executive vice president of Fred Meyer, group senior vice president of Ralphs and senior vice president of Food 4Less. Schnug is survived by his wife, Linda, two sons, Dennis and Damien, and his daughter Lindsay.

Source: Americold Realty Trust