VMG Partners To Sell Waggin’ Train LLC To Nestle Purina PetCare Co

VMG Partners signed a definitive agreement to sell Waggin’ Train LLC, a marketer of real-meat dog treats. The buyer is Nestle SA’s Nestle Purina PetCare Co. subsidiary. The transaction has received U.S. regulatory approval and is expected to close by the end of September.


VMG Partners, a private equity firm that specializes in investing in and building branded consumer product companies in the lower middle market, today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to sell its portfolio company, Waggin’ Train LLC, a leading marketer of real-meat dog treats, to Nestle Purina PetCare Company, a subsidiary of Nestle, S.A. The transaction has received U.S. regulatory approval and is expected to be completed by the end of September.

Kara M. Cissell-Roell, Managing Director of VMG Partners, said, “We saw enormous potential in this brand when we partnered with the founders of Waggin’ Train three years ago. We are pleased to have played a role in transforming Waggin’ Train into a leading brand and innovator in the real-meat dog treats segment of the pet food industry. Waggin’ Train’s management team, led by CEO Jerry Peters and COO Michelle Higdon, provided critical creative direction and daily operational expertise to support Waggin’ Train’s rapid expansion and brand growth. When the transaction is completed, Waggin’ Train will be extremely well positioned to achieve its next level of growth as part of the larger strategic Nestle Purina portfolio.”

Through the course of its ownership, VMG and the management team focused on expanding brand awareness, developing and launching premium products and diversifying sales to a broader base of retail customers. When it was acquired by VMG in late 2007, Waggin’ Train was sold primarily in mass merchandise and wholesale club stores. Waggin’ Train offers a full line of real-meat dog treats made with chicken, duck, and ham. Products include Chicken and Duck Jerky Tenders, Cowboy Steaks, Country Ham and Western Grill to name a few.

Jerry Peters, CEO of Waggin’ Train, spoke about VMG’s ability to work with entrepreneurial organizations. “The VMG team understood the needs of our small but fast growing business and how to take our company to the next phase of its growth. We worked with them with great confidence and our employees, customers, and investors achieved great results from this mutually beneficial relationship. VMG gave us the freedom to operate entrepreneurially but provided the strategic vision and support needed by the management team, each member of which was focused on the details of a rapidly growing and dynamic business.”

“Our focus is to acquire branded products with the potential for broader growth and then strengthen those businesses to deliver outstanding returns to our investors,” said Michael L. Mauze, a founder of VMG. “Waggin’ Train is an example of our ability to drive strategic growth in entrepreneurial businesses that are supported by passionate consumers.”

BMO Capital Markets and Moelis & Company acted as financial advisors and Kirkland & Ellis LLP acted as legal counsel for Waggin’ Train.

About VMG Partners

VMG Partners is a private equity investment firm with an exclusive focus on acquiring highly branded consumer products companies in the lower middle market. The firm’s defined set of attractive target industries include lifestyle, wellness, food/beverage, personal care, pet and leisure. The firm is led by a seasoned group of partners who have worked together over many years and whose complementary operating, marketing, and investing skills help to source proprietary transactions and enhance the value of the brands they acquire. The firm currently has $325 million of committed equity capital. VMG Partners is headquartered in San Francisco and Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.vmgpartners.com.