Buyout legend Tom Hicks returned to the deal-making scene recently when specialty alloy producer Carpenter Technology Corp. agreed to buy Latrobe Specialty Metals for $388 million in stock, Buyouts reported.
Hicks Holdings LLC, which Hicks describes as his family office, and Watermill Group bought the manufacturer of steel and steel alloys for the aerospace industry back in 2006 in a deal valued at $215 million. Hicks Holdings and Watermill invested a total of about $15 million each (the firms would eventually invest a total of about $20 million each, after a 2009 refinancing). Sankaty Advisors, the Bain Capital affiliate, also invested about $30 million in mezzanine financing. Hicks Holdings and Watermill will get 8.1 million shares, or about a 15 percent stake, in the company, valuing their original investment at more than 10x based on the company’s closing stock price on June 21 of $52.
The deal marked another win in the storied and controversial career of Hicks, 65, who in 2005 retired from Hicks Muse Tate & Furst, the buyout firm he helped found in 1989 with John Muse. The firm would go on to complete about 400 transactions, including deals for Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, Yell Group and AMFM Communications, which would later merge into Clear Channel, by the time Hicks “retired.” It ran into significant trouble in the early 2000s after heavy bets on telecom and Internet companies.
In recent years Hicks has often made news as the controversial owner of sports teams such as the Texas Rangers baseball team and Liverpool, England’s football club. He once infamously called for “cost-containment” of baseball player salaries during a press conference on his yacht.
But while Hicks slowed down, he didn’t really retire. After leaving Hicks Muse, he started Hicks Holdings for his sports and real estate assets. In 2006, the same year as the Latrobe deal, Hicks Holdings teamed with buyout shop Investcorp to buy logistics services provider Greatwide Logistics Services LLC for $730 million. In 2007, the firm bought Anvita Inc., a health care analytics company then known as SafeMed Inc., for an undisclosed amount. He’s also launched two special purpose acquisition companies. In 2009, his Hicks Acquisition Co. I bought Resolute Natural Resources Co. LLC, a Denver-based oil and gas exploration and production company, for approximately $600 million. Hicks Acquisition Company II, meanwhile, which Hicks launched last year, is currently looking for deals, he said.
But Hicks has no interest in re-entering the limited partner-supported buyout market.
“No, no, no, that part of my life’s behind me,” he told Buyouts, when asked if he’d like to raise a fund. “I’ve got four or five really good partners, my sons are working with me; I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. We’re not trying to make IRRs; we’re trying to build long-term value.”
Carpenter Technology’s investment will enable the company to boost its capacity to feed growing demand in the aerospace and energy markets, sister news service Reuters noted. “I’ve been doing this a long time in a lot of different industries,” Hicks told Buyouts. “We’re really excited about the prospect for the combined company over the next several years.”
Bernard Vaughan is a Senior Editor at Buyouts Magazine. Follow his tweets @BVaughanReuters.