Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Brazil firm pays $1.26 billion for Lotman's Keystone Foods

Brazil's Marfig Alimentos to pay $1.26 billion for Herb Lotman's Keystone Foods

Brazil firm pays $1.26 billion for Lotman's Keystone Foods

UPDATED: Herbert Lotman, who gave America the frozen fast-food hamburger patty and the Chicken McNugget, and his business partner, Lindsay Goldberg LLC, have sold Keystone Foods, his West Conshohocken-based multinational meat processor, to fast-growing Brazilian slaughterhouse and packinghouse operator Marfrig Alimentos SA, in a deal the buyer valued at $1.26 billion (equity + debt). - Keystone boss Jerry Dean tells more in my June 16 Inquirer column here.

EARLIER: Statement here, says the acquisition makes Marfig a supplier to McDonald's, Campbell's, Yum Brands, and ConAgra, and says it will keep Keystone management, headed by chief executive Jerry Dean.

The acquisition gives Marfrig a supplier with plants in the U.S. and a dozen other countries, less than a month after the U.S. Department of Agriculture blocked imports from plants owned by Marfrig and other meatpackers in Brazil as it reviews foreign inspection procedures. Fast-growing Marfrig reported sales of $4.9 billion last year from beef, pork, lamb and other operations in more than a dozen countries. The company's value on Brazil’s main stock market is nearly $6 billion. Marfrig said it will sell $1.4 billion in securities to pay for the deal.

Keystone's office fills part of the Five Tower Bridge building in West Conshy. Philadelphia's Dechert law firm says attorneys Ian Hartman, Henry Nassau and Stephen Skonieczny represented Lotman in the deal. Lindsay Goldberg is a partnership of Bessemer Holdings LP veteran Robert D. Lindsay and ex-Morgan Stanley executive Alan Edward Goldberg.

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Lotman, a butcher's son who grew up at 59th and Chestnut and later in Wynnefield, built the family business from a South Philadelphia beef-boning plant into a multinational chain with assembly lines and freezers across the middle of the U.S., from Alabama to Wisconsin, and in Australia, China, France, Israel and Malaysia, among other nations.

The firm's products, including boneless chicken portions in a fatty crust, and the frozen burgers Keystone began selling in the 1970s when the Arab oil embargo drove up beef prices, made it a major supplier to McDonald's and other restaurant chains.

"I'm just a butcher boy," Lotman told me in an interview last month. "I grew up as a butcher truck driver. Overbrook High School, that was my college." He's still a financial supporter of Overbrook's football team, paying for team jackets, summer football camp and the yearly awards party.

Lotman was for years the lead corporate backer of the LPGA women’s golf tournament and has contributed to Ronald McDonald House, eye care and other good causes. Drafted by Mayor Nutter, he led business efforts last winter to rescue Philadelphia's Dad Vail Regatta when the college crew races threatened to move to New Jersey. Lotman used his LPGA contacts to bring in Aberdeen Asset Management as lead sponsor and personally calling top Coca-Cola executives to get their contributions.

“I’m up to my neck in this, setting up corporate sponsorships. I’m having fun,” he told me at the time.

Joseph N. DiStefano
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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