Toronto firm negotiating with N.Y. buyer


September 18, 1993|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

Green Spring Dairy Inc., a Baltimore operation since the Great Depression, is in the process of being sold again to an out-of-town buyer.

John Labatt Ltd., the Toronto, Canada-based parent of Green Spring, disclosed yesterday that it had signed a letter of intent to sell the dairy operation to Dairy Enterprises Inc. in New York.

Lorne Stephenson, a spokesman for Labatt, said the letter was just a step in the acquisition process and stressed that the two parties might not reach a final agreement. He declined to discuss other aspects of the proposed sale.

Green Spring, which has about 380 workers, was founded in 1932 and was located on 41st Street in the Hampden section of Baltimore until it was bought by Lehigh Valley Dairy in the early 1980s. At that time, Lehigh renovated its Loch Raven Boulevard plant and moved operations out of Hampden.

In 1986, Green Spring was sold again. This time, the buyer was Johanna Dairies Inc. in Flemington, N.J., which was subsequently acquired by Labatt.

Stuart Freedman, a New York lawyer representing Dairy Enterprises, said he believed there would be no major changes in the employment or operations of Green Spring, assuming the sale was completed.

Mr. Freedman said that Dairy Enterprises had acquired Tuscan Dairies, the largest milk-processing operation in the New York metropolitan region, from Labatt last year. As a result of that transaction, he said, the investment group has the option to acquire Green Spring.

Mr. Stephenson of Labatt said the Green Spring transaction was part of the company's previously announced plan to sell its dairy industry holdings.

Labatt is the largest brewing company in Canada and is perhaps best known in this country for its Rolling Rock beer, brewed in Pennsylvania.

The company also owns a 90 percent interest in the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team.

Until it began divesting its dairy operation last year, Labatt was also Canada's largest dairy concern.

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