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Parks Sold to New York Investor, Will Remain in Baltimore

August 23, 1995

BALTIMORE (AP) _ Parks Sausage Co. will remain Baltimore’s largest minority-owned employer following the announcement Wednesday that a black-controlled investment firm will buy the company for an estimated $10 million.

Specific terms of the deal were still being negotiated, Parks Sausage Chairman Raymond Haysbert Sr. said, but both sides agreed in principle on a ballpark figure of ``almost $10 million″ and decided to keep the company in Baltimore.

The financially-troubled company had been seeking a buyer for at least two months and had warned city and state officials the plant might be sold to competitors who would move the jobs to lower-wage states in the South.

The buyer is New York investment firm MICHU Corp. The firm is controlled by W. Kevin Wright, who is former general counsel to TLC Beatrice International Holdings and ASF Systems Inc., and Anthony Fugett, president, chairman and chief executive officer of ASF.

Fugett’s late brother, Reginald F. Lewis, was rebuffed when he tried to buy Parks in 1975. He later acquired Beatrice in a $985 million leveraged buyout.

The salvaging of more than 200 jobs at Parks would cause just a modest impact on the economy of the city of 700,000, but Parks has long stood as a symbol in Baltimore, which is more than 60 percent black.

Parks was the first black-owned company to go public and be listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1969 before it returned to private ownership.

Haysbert, 75, said he would retire as chairman and work with Parks only as a consultant, but his son, company President Reginald Haysbert, would continue in a ``top level″ at Parks.

Haysbert joined the company in 1952, a year after Henry G. Parks Jr. turned an abandoned Baltimore dairy plant into the home of Parks Sausage.

The company earned $199,000 in its first year, and its sage-and-pepper-spiced sausage became increasingly popular in the Mid-Atlantic region, making Parks one of the largest black-owned businesses in the nation.

The company said it earned more than $20 million in 1994, selling to wholesalers and more than 6,000 retail outlets. It is listed at 85 on the Black Enterprise magazine top 100 black service and industrial companies.

Wright said he planned to expand the company and add to its product mix.

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