HOUSTON -- Sysco Corp. said it would buy rival US Foods Inc. from its private-equity owners for $3.5 billion, forming the nation's biggest food distributor. The combined companies will have annual sales of approximately $65 billion. Both distribute foods to restaurants, hotels, hospitals and schools, among other institutions.
Sysco president and chief executive Bill DeLaney will lead the combined distribution giant, which will go by the name Sysco and headquarter in Houston. DeLaney said Sysco was attracted by US Foods' customer-facing technologies, including standardized ordering software and mobile apps.
Sysco, which will assume US Foods' $4.7 billion debt, said it expected about $600 million in annual cost savings within three to four years.
Shareholders of US Foods, owned by private-equity firms Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and KKR & Co., will own about 13% of Sysco after the transaction closes, which is expected in the third quarter of 2014.
The firms together invested about $2.25 billion as equity in 2007 to buy US Foods (which was previously called US Foodservice) from Dutch grocer Ahold for $7.1 billion.
DeLaney said Sysco, with annual revenue of about $44 billion, now has an 18% share of the market, making it the largest U.S. foodservice distributor. US Foods has 9% share, putting it in the No. 2 spot.