Sponsors Trade Laundry Detergent Co.

Lincolnshire Management is buying Phoenix Brands LLC, a Stamford, Conn.-based maker of laundry detergents, from Trilantic Capital Partners, for around $135 million, Buyouts is reporting.

Lincolnshire, based in New York, will pay around $55 million in equity, and has secured $80 million in senior from Madison Capital Funding, GE Capital and Fifth Street Financial; a portion of that was mezzanine financing provided by Fifth Street. Barclays advised Trilantic Capital on the deal.

Lincolnshire will look to expand the company by introducing new product lines and expanding distribution, T.J. Maloney, president of Lincolnshire, told Buyouts.

During the recession, the company had faced increased competition from larger consumer products companies like Procter & Gamble cutting prices on their own products. But with the economy improving, that competition has started to ebb a bit. “With the economy turning around, the pricing pressure has retreated,” Maloney said.

Phoenix, which makes the detergent brands such as Ajax, Dynamo and Fab, generates about $130 million in revenue. The company’s products are sold in 40 countries, though it outsources most of its production and employs fewer than 50 people. The company’s products are positioned in the so-called “value segment,” meaning they are supposed to offer better value than their higher-priced competitors.

Lincolnshire is investing out of its fourth fund, an $835 million pool of capital it closed in 2008. Interestingly, Phoenix Brands will be only the third investment from the fund. Maloney said the firm had been very cautious about deploying capital during the economic downturn. The firm is now actively looking at several other potential deals.
“We’re very cautious with our money,” Maloney said. “We’ve never been asset aggregators.”

For Trilantic Capital, also based in New York, the sale comes out of Trilantic Capital Partners III LP, a $1.2 billion fund raised in 2007. The firm, then known as Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking, formed the company in 2004 when it bought the household brands unit of Unilever for an undisclosed amount.

The deal marks the second exit in less than a month for Trilantic Capital. In January, the firm sold Italian soft drinks company Spumador to Refresco Group, a Netherlands-based company owned by 3i Group Plc.

Executives at Trilantic Capital declined to comment.