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Manischewitz to Be Sold for $40.5 Million

Times Staff Writer

B. Manischewitz Co., a leading matzo maker, has agreed to be acquired by the Los Angeles investment firm of Levine, Tessler, Leichtman & Co.

Arthur E. Levine said Thursday that his firm agreed to pay $40.5 million, or $762.75 a share, for the Jersey City, N.J., company. Besides matzot, the firm produces other kosher baked goods and soups, and licenses its name to a wine maker.

Levine’s firm was among 45 bidders for the company, which said it first solicited offers last fall to increase shareholder value. Levine, Tessler, Leichtman made its bid with five members of Manischewitz management, including President and Chief Executive Robert M. Starr.

Levine said the purchase would be financed from borrowings and some of the firm’s own funds. He said he has obtained a commitment from Drexel Burnham Lambert for the debt financing, but he declined to provide details.

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‘Low-Ball Deal’

But one Manischewitz shareholder said Thursday that he isn’t happy with the deal, and said he might make his own bid. J. Morton Davis, who acquired 5.67% of the firm last March for $750 a share, called the $40.5-million selling price “a low-ball deal.”

He said that for the past six months, the thinly traded stock has ranged between $800 and $1,000 a share on the Cincinnati Stock Exchange. He said that in the past, he offered to buy the shares held by members of the Manischewitz board of directors but was rebuffed. Various directors control 27.3% of Manischewitz shares.

Davis said he asked Manischewitz’s investment bankers, Shearson Lehman Hutton, if he could examine the company’s books so he could make a bid for the firm. But Davis said he declined to review the books after he was told he would have to sign an agreement barring him from buying Manischewitz stock for five years.

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“I’ve asked our lawyers to see if they can get us the books now,” said Davis.

Levine said his partnership, formed 18 months ago, doesn’t plan any big changes at the firm.


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