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UPDATE 1-Sysco to buy US Foods from private equity, shares leap

Monday, 9 Dec 2013 | 9:02 AM ET

Dec 9 (Reuters) - Sysco Corp said it would buy rival US Foods Inc for about $3.5 billion and assume about $4.7 billion in debt to cement its position as the biggest U.S. food distributor, driving up Sysco's shares 30 percent before the bell.

Shareholders of US Foods, owned by affiliates of private equity firms Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and KKR & Co, will own about 13 percent of Sysco after the closing of the deal, which will create a company with revenue of $65 billion.

"Combining and maximizing the significant strengths of two outstanding companies is certain to be of tremendous advantage in supporting our customers," US Foods Chief Executive John Lederer said in a statement on Monday.

Sysco and US Foods distribute foods to restaurants, hotels, hospitals, schools and other institutions.

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and KKR acquired the former U.S. Foodservice from Dutch grocer Ahold for $7.1 billion in 2007.

Sysco said the deal is expected to add to earnings immediately after closing, expected in the third quarter of 2014.

Goldman Sachs & Co is financial adviser to Sysco, while Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Arnall, Golden & Gregory LLP are legal advisers. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP are legal advisers to US Foods.

Sysco shares were trading at $44.50 before the bell after closing on Friday at $34.31 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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