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When James Bruce Llewellyn received word that Fedco Food Corp. was on the selling block, he quickly sought financing to purchase the profitable south Bronx grocery store chain. In what would become known as one of the first leverage buyouts, the deal cemented Llewellyn’s place in business history.

A towering figure in the broadcasting, bottling, banking and supermarket industries, it seemed the New York native never met a challenge too big for his appetite for acquisitions and turnarounds. Llewellyn passed away in his New York City home, Wednesday night, April 7, due to kidney failure. He was 82.

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Under his leadership, the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co. grew into the sixth-largest Coca-Cola bottling operation and the third-largest African American-owned business in the United States. He also made his mark in the banking and broadcasting industries. Along the way, Llewellyn became one of the few to serve as CEO of multiple BE 100s companies simultaneously.

“He will be truly missed,” wrote Coca-Cola in an internal memo to its employees. “Our thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.”

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