HOOPP Capital Partners (HCP) has made a minority investment in Chobani, a Norwich, New York-based Greek Yogurt brand. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal, which resulted in the exit of U.S. private equity firm TPG, which invested US$750 million in the company in 2014. HCP, the private capital arm of the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP), will take a seat on Chobani’s board. Managing Partner Jim Walker said HCP will support the company in its next phase of global growth. Established in 2005, Chobani accounts for a close to 20 percent share of the U.S. yogurt market, according to Nielsen.
Chobani announces Canadian pension firm HOOPP as new minority investor
Investment aligns with Chobani’s focus on nutritional and social wellness and provides increased operational flexibility to pursue growth initiatives
NORWICH, N.Y., June 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Chobani, maker of America’s #1 Greek Yogurt brand and the second largest overall yogurt manufacturer in the U.S., has announced today that it has secured a minority investment from the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP), one of the largest defined benefit pension plans in Canada. HOOPP Capital Partners, the defined benefit plan’s private capital investment team, has acquired a minority equity investment in Chobani, which will help support the Company as it continues to lead innovation in the yogurt category and invests in its business. As a result of the transaction, TPG, a global alternative investment firm, has exited its investment in the Company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though HOOPP will be given one board seat as part of its investment.
“In HOOPP, we’ve found a partner that sees the world the way we do,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO of Chobani. “This is a minority investment but most importantly it’s a symbiotic partnership. We have the same DNA. I’ve loved getting to know Jim and the entire HOOPP team in recent months, sharing ideas about how business makes a difference for their people, their communities and their investors. On a personal level, I love that heroes like healthcare workers are now part of our family and our story.”
Jim Walker, Managing Partner at HOOPP Capital Partners, added: “Chobani is truly one of those unique companies and investment opportunities that seems to defy all odds: coming out of nowhere, lifting up its communities and driving exceptional long-term value and performance. We were drawn to its success and compelled by Hamdi’s and his incredibly strong teams’ vision for the future. We think its best days are yet to come, both in the US and beyond, and we’re thrilled to join them in their next phase of growth.”
The investment was facilitated through the Company’s discussions with a number of selected investors to buy back warrants from TPG by issuing equity to HOOPP. The investment from HOOPP will give Ulukaya increased operational flexibility and governance to support Chobani’s focus on nutritional and social wellness. The structure of the new investment will also provide Ulukaya and its employees an opportunity to increase their equity position by as much as 10%, bringing the total equity controlled by them to as much as 90%.
Chobani recently celebrated its 10th year as a national brand. In that time, the company has expanded its manufacturing and operations from New Berlin, New York, to Twin Falls, Idaho and South Victoria, Australia—with sales offices throughout the US and Mexico. It has grown from five employees to well over 2,0001, starting out with one truck of milk a day at one location and now using millions of pounds per day. With a nearly 20% share of the U.S. yogurt market2, Chobani is the one of the only brands with increasing brand desire and equity, and it has the highest loyalty in the category3. In the first quarter of 2018, Chobani drove household penetration to all-time highs4 and broke order and shipment records5.
TD Securities (USA) LLC and Centerview Partners LLC served as financial advisors and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLC served as legal advisor to Chobani in this transaction. Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP served as legal advisor to HOOPP Capital Partners.
Maker of America’s No. 1–selling Greek Yogurt brand and the second largest yogurt manufacturer in the U.S., Chobani, LLC, was founded on the belief that people have great taste—they just need great options. Chobani produces high-quality authentic yogurt made with only natural, non-GMO ingredients from its plants in New Berlin, New York, Twin Falls, Idaho and South Victoria, Australia. Chobani is committed to using milk from regional farms and strengthening its surrounding local economies. Chobani gives a portion of its annual profits to charities worldwide through the company’s charitable foundation. In 2017, Chobani was recognized by Fast Company as one of the top 10 most innovative companies in the world. All Chobani products—including Chobani® Greek Yogurt and Greek Yogurt Drink, Chobani® Smooth, Chobani® Flip®, Chobani Tots® and Chobani Kids® products—are kosher certified, contain live and active cultures and are made with milk from cows not treated with rBST. * Chobani products are available nationwide in the U.S., Mexico and Australia, and in countries in Asia and Latin America. For more information, please visit www.chobani.com and www.facebook.com/chobani.
About the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan
Created in 1960, HOOPP is a multi-employer contributory defined benefit plan for Ontario’s hospital and community-based healthcare sector with 548 participating employers. HOOPP’s membership includes nurses, medical technicians, food services staff and housekeeping staff, and many other people who work hard to provide valued Ontario healthcare services. In total, HOOPP has more than 339,000 active, deferred and retired members.
Alaynah Tombridge / Chobani / email@example.com / 616-893-4076
1Source: Chobani employment records, May 2018
2Source: Nielsen Total U.S. xAOCL13 week ending 3/31/18
3Source: IPSOS 2017 Brand Equity Tracking, Q4 2016 & 2017
4Source: Nielsen Total U.S. Household Panel Data Q1 2018
5Source: Chobani Internal Data, May 2018