Investcorp In $200M Deal For Sur La Table, Kitchenware Chain – Corrected

Investcorp seems to have hit its sweet spot in its deal for Seattle kitchenware retail chain Sur La Table Inc.: The Bahrain-based firm paid something above $200 million to Freeman Spogli & Co. and the Behnke family in the hand-off, a person with knowledge of the deal told peHUB.

Not much more is known about the deal structure, except that Freeman Spogli & Co. and the Behnke family will remain as investors in the company.

Investcorp, a multi-strategy firm that is publicly traded in its Bahrain home market and London, typically makes equity investments of $100 million to $300 million, Sarah Bradley, a managing director, told sister publication Buyouts last year.

Investcorp focuses on four industries, Bradley said: growth industrials and distribution; business services; consumer and retail; and media and education.

Within that framework, however, the firm has assembled a diverse collection of assets, among them SourceMedia (formerly Thomson Media), a New York-based publisher of publications including American Banker and The Bond Buyer; Orexad, the largest distributor of industrial supplies in France; and N&W, an Italian manufacturer of food and beverage vending machines.

Investcorp also runs hedge funds, real estate funds and funds dedicated to technology, according to its Web site.

In Sur La Table, Investcorp takes over a firm that Freeman Spogli & Co. has owned since 2006, according to Thomson Reuters. Founded in Seattle in 1972, the retailer was purchased by the Behnke family of Seattle in 1995. Over the next five years, the company expanded that single store to 19 stores, expanded into e-commerce, and launched a culinary instruction program. Today, the chain comprises 86 stores in the United States, a Web site, catalog and gift registry.

Investcorp sees the chain as a growth business, said Kevin Nickelberry, a managing director at the firm, in the press release announcing the deal. “We believe that Sur La Table is well positioned in its existing markets and has multiple opportunities for growth including new store expansion and e-commerce.”

Morgan Joseph TriArtisan Group Inc. gave financial advice on the deal to Investcorp. William Blair & Company advised the Behnke family and Freeman Spogli & Co.

CORRECTION: A version of this article posted on Sept. 21, 2011, incorrectly identified Investcorp as being Bahrain-based. A spokesman said the firm, although founded in Bahrain, today has investment and operational teams in its three headquarters in Bahrain, London and New York and invests globally.