San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas


BRENHAM — Fort Worth billionaire Sid Richardson Bass has “made a significant investment” in beloved but beleaguered Blue Bell Creameries, the Brenham-based company announced today in a written statement.

After it was unable to contain recurring bacterial contamination at its production facilities, Blue Bell recalled all its products in April and has laid off 1,450 employees. The company plans to resume limited production at its Sylacauga, Ala. plant soon, but executives have not publicly predicted when its products might return to freezer cases.

“The additional capital will ensure the successful return of our ice cream to the market and our loyal customers,” said Paul Kruse, Blue Bell’s president and chief executive officer.

A Yale- and Stanford-educated businessman, Sid Bass has invested in sectors far afield from the oil and gas business that laid the foundation for a family fortune estimated at $8.9 billion in 2015, according to Forbes. Between 1984 and 2001, Sid Bass and other family members were the largest shareholders in the Walt Disney Co.

Blue Bell’s announcement described Bass as a partner in the company but did not disclose how much money he has committed to invest.

After spending nearly three months trying to regain its footing, Blue Bell “likely needed the cash infusion as it tries to restart ice cream production,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, citing Michael Sherrod, the entrepreneur-in-residence at Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business.

“Right now, money is only flowing out and has been for months and months now so any cash reserves they have I’m sure are severely depleted. They’ve been looking for somebody like Sid Bass to play that white knight role so they didn’t have to sell out,” Sherrod said.

Sherrord said private equity firms were probably looking at Blue Bell since the company has a solid brand and reputation among consumers despite the listeriosis outbreak. Blue Bell is estimated to have about $650 million in annual sales prior to the recall of its ice cream products.

PHOTO: The Blue Bell creamery in Brenham. PHOTO VIA FLICKR

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