The long bidding war for Burger King, Miami, has ended, finally, as Fort Worth, Texas, buyout firm Texas Pacific Group paid $2.26 billion for the “Home of the Whopper.” BK's current owner, London's Diageo plc, has long planned to spin-off the nation's second-largest hamburger chain and focus instead on its liquor business, which boasts such well-known brands as Smirnoff, Guinness and Johnnie Walker.

Closing of the deal is expected in the fourth quarter, and Texas Pacific had been considered a front-runner for Burger King, which commanded a reasonable price, say most analysts. In fiscal 2001, Burger King's North American same-store sales had declined 4%, compared with the prior year.

Analysts also say the owner change will be good for Burger King, which had been a bit of an orphan in Diageo's portfolio. Texas Pacific's consortium reportedly has asked John Dasburg, BK's CEO and president of almost two years, and his senior management team, to remain in place.

Texas Pacific is a buyout firm whose portfolio has included Bally, Ducati and Del Monte.


In other fast-food news, a 272-lb. man has sued four major fast-food chains (McDonald's, Wendy's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King), claiming their offerings contributed to his obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Seeking undetermined compensatory damages, the lawsuit estimates that millions of Americans could be included in the claim and, furthermore, seeks to have the companies label individual products with fat, salt, cholesterol and other dietary content, as well as to warn diners of the health consequences.

Commenting that the lawsuit “gives frivolous a bad name,” Steven Anderson, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Assoc., said, “This lawsuit . . . is a blatant attempt to capitalize on recent news stories on the growing rates of obesity.”

Sidebar: THE IN BOX:

Degussa Corp. has broken ground on a new global headquarters for its fruit systems business line. The new plant and business facility is located in Philadelphia and will combine management, customer service, technical and production in one location.

A&B Ingredients has formed a strategic alliance with Nutriz for the North American distribution and marketing of the company's new line of pre-mixed, ready-to-use, rice-based powders. Nutriz powders are used in the production of drinks, frozen desserts, vegetable creams and other food products.

Fortitech, Inc. and BASF announced a joint venture for the manufacture, marketing and sales of human nutrition premix products. Under the agreement, BASF will transfer its premix customers in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa to the international companies of Fortitech. Fortitech international companies, constituting the joint venture, will assume ownership of BASF's premix manufacturing facilities in Denmark and Malaysia. In addition, BASF will become the primary supplier of a broad range of nutritional ingredients to Fortitech. The joint venture builds upon the existing North American strategic alliance the companies formed in June 2001, creating a worldwide partnership.

Glanbia Ingredients' TruCal™ has achieved generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status. TruCal can be used in food and beverage fortification, and to enrich dairy products in nutrition bars, sports and isotonic beverages, as well as in other categories.

Wilbur Chocolate has acquired the Omnisweet Company of Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Omnisweet manufactures specialty compound chips, low-melt ice cream flakes and other value-added products. Wilbur will use the Burlington facility to produce nutritionally-fortified coatings and inclusions, as well as colored and flavored products.

Kerry Ingredients North America has created Nutriant, a division to focus on producing all-natural nutritional ingredients for the food industry. Nutriant encompasses Kerry's acquisitions of Solnuts and Iowa Soy.

International Specialty Products has established technical centers in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Istanbul, Turkey, while expanding their technology center in Singapore.

Humko Specialty Powders, a division of ACH Food Companies, has announced an agreement with Sargento Foods Inc. Humko will produce dried Sargento cheese powders and market them to processed food manufacturers in the United States.