Centre Partners has acquired operating businesses of Connors Bros. Income Fund, which include branded seafood products like Bumble Bee and Brunswick. The transaction’s enterprise value is approximately $600 million, with Connors senior management staying in place and holding a “significant stake” in the business. Wells Fargo Foothill underwrote a $350 million senior revolver and term loan facility, Ares Capital arranged a $135 million senior sub-debt placement and co-invested on the equity. Falcon Investment Advisors also made an equity co-investment.
Centre Partners, a leading middle market private equity firm with offices in New York and Los Angeles, today announced that it completed its purchase of the operating businesses of Connors Bros. Income Fund for a total enterprise value of approximately $600 million. The company’s senior management team will own a significant stake in the business and will continue to serve in the same executive capacities with the company.
Connors Bros. is North America’s largest branded seafood company, offering a full line of canned tuna, salmon, sardine, and specialty seafood products, marketed under leading brands including Bumble Bee(R), Clover Leaf(R), Brunswick(R), Snow’s(R), and Beach Cliff(R), as well as a full line of canned chicken products in the U.S. under the Sweet Sue(R) brand name.
Centre Partners has a long-standing relationship with the company and its management team, having previously acquired the Bumble Bee business from ConAgra in May of 2003. The Bumble Bee business was merged with Connors Bros. Income Fund in April 2004.
Connors Chief Executive Officer Chris Lischewski said, “I am very pleased to be partnering with Centre for a second time. Their financial support and expertise should enable us to accelerate our growth plans for the business while allowing us to maintain our focus on providing the highest quality product while being the low-cost operator. This transaction is a clear endorsement of the strength of our dedicated management team and the strength of our consumer brands.”
Centre Senior Partner Scott Perekslis added: “We’re equally excited to partner with Chris Lischewski and his high-quality management team again. We continue to believe there is significant growth for seafood and, in these uncertain economic times, canned seafood in particular. The company has a number of exciting growth initiatives, which we believe will significantly improve its market-leading positions in both the United States and Canada. We look forward to supporting Chris and the team as they expand their business further.”
In support of the acquisition, Wells Fargo Foothill, part of Wells Fargo & Company, underwrote a $350 million senior revolver and term loan facility. Ares Capital Corporation structured and arranged a $135 million senior subordinated debt placement and co-invested in the common equity. Falcon Investment Advisors LLC structured a $50 million preferred equity tranche while also making a substantial common equity co-investment. Offering support throughout the capital structure, Wells Fargo also participated as an investor in the senior subordinated and preferred equity components.
Perekslis noted, “In these difficult markets, working with the right capital partners is critical to successful transaction execution. Wells Fargo, Ares, and Falcon all demonstrated why they are leaders in the M&A financing market. In the midst of historic market volatility and credit illiquidity, each of them brought to us the fortitude, flexibility, and acumen required to effect a deal.”
About Centre Partners
Centre Partners, founded in 1986, is a leading private equity firm with a middle market focus that seeks to make acquisitions and equity investments alongside management teams who have or desire a meaningful economic stake in the future success of their businesses. Centre Partners has invested over $3 billion in more than 90 transactions, partnering with management teams across a broad spectrum of industries. Centre Partners provides those teams with access to its unique resources, which include an extended network of experienced and proven operating executives. The firm is currently investing through its fifth fund, which has approximately $880 million of committed capital. Centre has deep investment expertise covering consumer, healthcare, industrial products and services, financial services, energy, media, restaurants, retail, and aviation services. Additional information is available at http://www.centrepartners.com.