Cornell Capital-backed Knowlton Development agrees to buy Zobele Group

Financing for the transaction will include significant equity reinvestment from Cornell Capital and CDPQ, as well as from the other existing investors. 

Cornell Capital-backed Knowlton Development Corp agreed to buy Zobele Group, which makes home and air care products. Cornell Capital acquired Knowlton in December 2018 with Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Investissement Québec and HarbourVest Partners. Financing for the transaction will include equity reinvestment from Cornell Capital and CDPQ, as well as other existing investors.

Press Release

Knowlton Development Corporation (“KDC/ONE” or the “Company”), a global leader in custom formulation and manufacturing solutions for beauty, personal care and household brands, today announced an agreement to acquire Zobele Group (“Zobele”), a leading global innovator and manufacturer of home and air care products.

Founded in Italy in 1919, Zobele is a leading global manufacturer with more than 5,000 employees, two innovation hubs, five design & development centers and seven state-of-the-art facilities across the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America. Zobele serves 130 customers, providing an unparalleled, international offering and service to more than 150 leading brands in the fastest-growing household categories.

Established in 2002, KDC/ONE has become one of the world’s leading custom formulators and manufacturers, offering high-touch innovation, operational excellence and speed to market for well-known and emerging brands. Backed by Cornell Capital, which acquired KDC/ONE in December 2018 with Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Investissement Québec and HarbourVest Partners, KDC/ONE has expanded its technology base and expertise.

KDC/ONE’s strategic acquisition of Zobele will further enhance its global platform across beauty, personal care and household products to provide its customers with best-in-class innovation and manufacturing capabilities. With a shared commitment to operational excellence, innovation and client service, KDC/ONE and Zobele are dedicated partners to their customers, and the combination is expected to immediately enhance customer offerings. Following the close of the transaction, Zobele CEO Roberto Schianchi and the current management team will continue to run the Zobele business under the KDC/ONE umbrella, and Zobele’s headquarters will remain in Italy.

“As a market leader in its categories, Zobele is the right partner for us as we look to embark on our next chapter of strategic growth,” said Nicholas Whitley, President and CEO of KDC/ONE. “With a truly scaled international footprint and customer base, the combined company will drive unparalleled innovation for our partners and significant expansion into key geographic and end markets. We look forward to working closely with Zobele’s visionary management team to capitalize on the many growth opportunities ahead.”

“We are excited to announce this transformative combination with KDC/ONE,” said Roberto Schianchi, Chief Executive Officer of Zobele. “We look forward to collaborating with KDC/ONE to provide best-in-class services and high-quality products to our customers. Together with KDC/ONE, we are confident that we will be able to advance our shared goal of creating cutting-edge products and technologies at scale while using the best of our combined industrial footprint.”

“This strategic and highly complementary transaction positions KDC/ONE for continued success as a global brand partner that can deliver bespoke innovation at an accelerated pace,” said Justine Cheng, Chair of the KDC/ONE Board of Directors and Partner at Cornell Capital. “We are pleased to continue to support KDC/ONE as it partners with Zobele to continue building the Company’s platform as a global one-stop shop for consumer goods companies across the beauty, personal care and household products categories.”

“Since our initial investment in 2014, KDC/ONE has made a series of complementary international acquisitions, allowing the company to grow and diversify while consolidating its position as one of the most innovative manufacturers in the world. Today, this Québec company is a true global leader, and CDPQ is pleased to continue supporting it,” said Charles Emond, President and Chief Executive Officer of CDPQ.

Financing for the transaction will include significant equity reinvestment from Cornell Capital and CDPQ, as well as from the other existing investors. UBS Securities LLC and Jefferies LLC are acting as joint lead arrangers for the transaction, with UBS as the left lead arranger. Specific financial terms were not disclosed. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close later this year.

Jefferies Group LLC is acting as financial advisor to KDC/ONE and Cornell Capital, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is acting as legal advisor. Guggenheim Securities, LLC is acting as financial advisor to Zobele Group, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is acting as legal advisor.

About KDC/ONE

KDC/ONE is a leading global provider of manufacturing and packaging solutions for the beauty, personal care and household sectors. Established in 2002, KDC/ONE is headquartered in Longueuil, Québec and employs over 7,000 employees across 18 state-of-the-art facilities in North America, Europe and Asia. KDC/ONE also operates three state-of-the-art innovation and R&D centers. The business delivers high-touch innovation, operational excellence and speed-to-market to a wide range of prestige and emerging brands. Over the past five years, KDC/ONE has experienced rapid growth through the successful completion of several acquisitions. Most recently, KDC/ONE completed its previously announced merger with HCT Group, a leading provider of full-service manufacturing solutions for cosmetic brands. For more information, visit www.kdc-one.com.

About Zobele

Zobele Group is a leading global innovator and manufacturer of home and air care products with more than 5,000 employees, two innovation hubs, five design & development centers and seven state-of-the art facilities across North & South America, Europe and Asia. The Company is highly recognized by its customers to provide outstanding value and a unique offering of products and services that can be supplied worldwide, ranging from innovation partnerships and development agreements to manufacturing and distribution. Zobele sells its products to blue chip fast-moving consumer goods companies worldwide as well as primary regional brands and retailers and provides a truly integrated global business model to its customers. For more information, visit www.zobele.com.

About Cornell Capital

Cornell Capital LLC is a U.S.-based private investment firm with $3.0 billion of AUM and offices in New York and Hong Kong. Partnering with strong, entrepreneurial management teams, the firm takes a value-oriented approach to investing across the consumer, financial and industrial sectors. Founder and Senior Partner Henry Cornell, who served as the Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division prior to founding Cornell Capital in 2013, leads a highly-seasoned senior leadership team with decades of shared investing experience. For more information, visit www.cornellcapllc.com.

About Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) is a long-term institutional investor that manages funds primarily for public and parapublic pension and insurance plans. As at June 30, 2019, it held CAD 326.7 billion in net assets. As one of Canada’s leading institutional fund managers, CDPQ invests globally in major financial markets, private equity, infrastructure, real estate and private debt. For more information, visit cdpq.com, follow us on Twitter @LaCDPQ or consult our Facebook or LinkedIn pages.