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Firm pays Stephenses $380M for Viking Range.

GREENWOOD, Miss.--Food service equipment maker Middleby Corp. has bought Mississippi-based oven and kitchen appliance maker Viking Range Corp. for $380 million.

Viking Range is based in Greenwood, Miss., and makes products for use in residential cooking. Middleby said Viking Range had $200 million in annual sales. During the last 12 months Middleby's revenue has grown 21 percent to $990 million.

The deal was announced Dec. 31.

All of Viking's past shareholders were individuals who were affiliated with either Stephens Inc. or the Stephens Group of Little Rock, two separate Stephens family firms, or were executives of Viking. In addition to founder Fred Carl Jr., other Viking executives who were shareholders were longtime executives Ron Ussery and Brian Waldrop. In addition, Brenda Durden, the widow of longtime Viking executive Liston Durden, was also a Viking shareholder.

Fred Carl Jr., Viking's founder and chief executive officer, told the Greenwood Commonwealth that the manufacturer of upscale kitchen appliances would stay in Greenwood. He expects few changes resulting from the new ownership other than future growth in the city of its birth.

"I am truly happy about this," Carl said. "It's going to be good for Viking, good for Viking employees and good for Greenwood. That was very important to me."

Carl, 64, will remain the company's president and chief executive officer for "probably several more years," he said.

In addition to Viking's manufacturing operation, the company's hospitality subsidiaries--including its cooking schools and the Alluvian Hotel--are included in the sale to Middleby.

Carl said Viking's 1,000 employees were notified of the sale in an email Dec. 31.

Middleby, based in Elgin, Ill., said the acquisition would help it expand in the residential cooking market. It also plans to introduce Viking Range's products in emerging markets.

--The Associated Press
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Title Annotation:Manufacturing
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Company overview
Geographic Code:1U6MS
Date:Jan 7, 2013
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