FTC clears Lion Capital to invest in Lenny & Larry’s

Lenny & Larry’s LLC apparently has a new owner: Lion Capital is investing in the maker of protein-rich cookies, according to an FTC filing.

The regulator cleared the transaction after an antitrust review, the May 24 filing said.

Terms of Lion’s investment weren’t available, but transactions valued at $80.8 million or more must be reported to the FTC, according to the regulator’s HSR 2017 guidelines.

Lenny & Larry’s, Panorama City, California, is known for producing the Complete Cookie, which comes in flavors like birthday cake, chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, double chocolate, pumpkin spice, peanut butter and oatmeal. Some of its products, like the Complete Brownie, are so nutritionally packed that they can be used as a meal replacement, the Lenny & Larry’s website says.

Lenny & Larry’s went up for sale last year, Buyouts reported in July. Piper Jaffray was advising. Lion Capital was one of many bidders vying for the company, a source said.

It’s unclear why the auction has taken so long. Barry Turner, owner and founder of Lenny & Larry’s, declined comment.

Lenny & Larry’s is facing a class-action lawsuit from two consumers alleging breach of implied warranty, fraud, product liability and unjust enrichment. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, claims that Lenny & Larry’s falsely advertised the nutritional value of its cookie products or grossly inflated the actual protein content of its products, Legal NewsLine reported in March.

The lawsuit is in the early stages, according to Nick Suciu of the law firm Barbat Mansour & Suciu PLLC. Suciu represents the plaintiffs.

Lion Capital, London, targets consumer companies. The PE firm has invested in companies including Weetabix, Kettle Foods, Bumble Bee Foods and Jimmy Choo.

Lion has been fundraising for its fourth fund, which originally was seeking $2.5 billion, Buyouts has reported. Lion collected $1 billion for the pool in late 2015, Buyouts said. It has since lowered its target to $1.5 billion, Preqin said.

Executives for Lion declined comment. Piper Jaffray could not be reached for comment.

Action Item: Contact Barry Turner at barry@lennylarry.com

The Complete Cookie from Lenny & Larry’s. Photo by Buyouts Staff.