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Business Observer Wednesday, Jul. 14, 2021 1 week ago

Italian company outbids competitor, buys local manufacturer for $4.8 billion

New Port Richey's Welbilt Inc. purchased by by Milan-based Ali Holding in all-cash deal valued at $4.8 billion.

NEW PORT RICHEY—Welbilt Inc. has been bought by an Italian food service manufacturer in an all cash deal worth about $4.8 billion.

Ali Holding S.r.l. is paying $24 per share, according to a statement released by the companies. The boards of both companies unanimously approved the sale. It is expected to close early next year.

Shares of Welbilt (NYSE: WBT) closed up 0.47% Wednesday at $23.37.

This is the second time Welbilt has announced a sale in the past five months.

Ali, which is based in Milan and has its U.S. operations in Chicago, outbid Illinois-based Middleby Corp. for the company. Welbilt announced in March that it was selling itself to Middleby. At the time Middleby offered $4.3 billion in all-stock deal.

In a press release Tuesday July 13, Middleby announced that it would not match the offer and that it would let the previous agreement end of the business day Wednesday, July 14. 

As part of the original agreement, Wellbilt must now pay a $110 million termination fee.

Welbilt traces its roots back to 1929 when brothers Henry and Alexander Hirsch founded the Welbilt Stove Co. The company was called Welbilt until 2000 when it changed its name to Enodis.

Wisconsin-based The Manitowoc Company bought Enodis in 2008 and the current company was spun off in 2016 as the rechristened Manitowoc Foodservice Inc.

It changed its name to Welbilt the following year to reflect its history.

The company, based in Pasco County since 2008, currently operates 19 facilities worldwide and sells its products through 5,000 distributors. It has about 4,400 employees.

According to the company’s first quarter earnings report released in May, Welbilt’s annual net sales fell 3.7% to $316 million from the same period last year. Earnings were $7.9 million compared with a first quarter loss of $15.1 million last year.

The sale comes a little more than a year after the Welbilt announced plant closings and job cuts to adjust for the impact of the pandemic on the restaurant industry.

The company said at the time that it was shuttering five of its 10 North American plants for one to two weeks, as well as three of its six facilities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Welbilt also laid off 200 employees at the time, a reduction that was expected to cut costs by approximately $3.5-$4.5 million. 

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