Maple Leaf Withdraws its Offer to Purchase Hamilton Property
Hamilton, Ontario; November 22, 2005. Maple Leaf Foods today advised the City of Hamilton that it is withdrawing its request for the City to approve a conditional sale of land in the North Glanbrook Industrial Business Park. Maple Leaf Foods had requested this conditional land sale as necessary to undertake a zoning amendment application in support of the potential establishment of a pork processing plant in the Industrial Business Park.
Maple Leaf has been exploring a number of options to revitalize its Ontario fresh pork operations based in Burlington. These options include refurbishing the existing plant or establishing a new greenfield operation. Maple Leaf has not made a final decision on the best path to maintain and grow this business. Hamilton is a preferred location because of the fact that 80% of the Burlington plant workforce resides in Hamilton, and because of its excellent location and proximity to markets in eastern Canada and the U.S.
A conditional purchase of land in the North Glanbrook Industrial Business Park would require significant investment in time and financial resources to prove that the project can meet all municipal and provincial regulatory requirements. This scale of investment and commitment requires that Maple Leaf Foods work in partnership with the municipality. It requires confidence from the municipal government in its own planning process, within which Maple Leaf would have to undertake comprehensive studies to prove that it could manage any adverse environmental or social impact.
At present, Maple Leaf Foods feels that there is sufficient but not strong government or community confidence in the process. As the Company has not determined the final business strategy, and as the project lacks strong local support for the Company to proceed with the zoning amendment process, Maple Leaf is withdrawing its request for a conditional purchase of the property in the North Glanbrook Industrial Business Park. Maple Leaf will pursue its analysis of how to optimize its Ontario pork processing operation, including reinvesting in its Burlington plant or potentially relocating all or part of these operations to a new location, and expects to make this decision in 2006. Maple Leaf Foods will continue to be a strong and growing contributor to the Hamilton economy through its four existing plants in the City, which employ over 450 people at its meat processing, bakery, pasta and rendering operations.
Contact: Lynda Kuhn
VP, Public & Investor Relations
MAPLE LEAF FOODS INC.
416-926-7031 or 416-963-6159