July 20, 2015

This ain't your daddy's #BlueBell any longer

Ice cream pints being filled at Blue Bell's Oklahoma plant before it
shut down this spring. Steve Campbell/Fort Worth Star Telegram
Oil and water may not mix, but apparently oil and dairy cream will.

Blue Bell CEO Paul Kruse and his PR minions can spin this any way they want to (and they've done enough spinning since the listeria shit started hitting the fan), but Sid Bass's $125 million bailout — that's what it is — of the ice cream giant WILL change how things operate at the Little Creamery in Brenham, Texas.

Kruse himself couldn't spin the story enough to hide that he had no other choice rather than to agree to a deal that could, in just three years, give Bass one-third ownership. The idea that is, as a private company, "cannot discuss financial matters" is of course horse hockey.

And, if Bass thinks Blue Bell needs a new CEO at that point, he'll get one. And, presumably, one outside the Kruse family, which has run the company for most of its existence. Now, it may stay privately held, rather than publicly traded, but changing family control would be big enough.

But, going public could be the next step, according to this news analysis. And, it's understandable. The company's going to need money for its plant improvements, which are underway. It's going to need more money to settle lawsuits. And, it's going to need more money yet to make sure Sid Bass is getting enough return on his dinero to remain a content investor.

In that piece, Sam Hamadah, to pick up on both it and my second link, says Blue Bell's books must be pretty bad for it to accept such a deal. He says they probably contacted various bankers, who offered interest rates of 9 percent or more. Instead, they get Bass' line of cash, but in exchange for his presumed takeover.

And, despite the spin, going public.

So, while this ain't your daddy's Blue Bell in general, for any children of Kevin Kruse, before long, it certainly won't be your daddy's.

And, overall, that will probably be for the best for the company, and for ice cream lovers in general, given that Kruse and his PR minions sat on listeria news for five years, even while pretending that it was still just "The Little Creamery" rather than a giant ice cream behemoth, through various peddlings of myth.

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