Conyers Park Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: CPAAU), a recently formed New York blank check company sponsored by Greenwich, Connecticut-based private equity firm Centerview Capital Holdings LLC, and led by James M. Kilts, David J. West and Brian K. Ratzan, is reportedly nearing a deal to acquire Ferrara Candy Co., the largest independent American manufacturer of sugar confectionery products, from private equity firm L Catterton, also based in Greenwich.
In July, Conyers Park closed its IPO raising over $402.5 million in gross proceeds. Kitts previously served as vice chairman of Procter & Gamble, and CEO of Gillette and Nabisco. West previously served as CEO and president of Big Heart Pet Brands (formerly known as Del Monte Foods) and Hershey Foods.
Centerview Capital is the operationally-focused private equity arm of Centerview Partners, a leading independent investment banking firm headquartered in New York, with offices in London, San Francisco, Palo Alto and Los Angeles. Since its founding in 2006, the firm advised on over $1.25 trillion of transactions and its clients include over 20% of the 50 largest companies in the world by market capitalization.
Earlier this year, L Catterton started exploring an exit for Ferrara Candy Co., which has 16 brands and annual revenue of $1.1 billion, as reported by ExitHub in July, and was said to have hired Rothschild & Co. and Morgan Stanley to explore options for Ferrara, including a sale or IPO at a $1 billion valuation.
Conyers Park’s interest in acquiring Ferrara in a deal valued roughly at $1.5 billion was earlier reported by the New York Post.
The move would seem to emulate Gores Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ CM: GRSHU, GRSH, GRSHW), a blank check company sponsored by Beverly Hills-based private equity firm Gores Group LLC, which agreed to acquire Hostess Brands from private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO) and Metropoulos and Co., in a reverse merger deal valued at $2.3 billion or 10.4x EBITDA. The Gores-Hostess deal was announced in July, two weeks before Conyers Park’s IPO.
Ferrara, based in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, makes yummy gummies, better-for-you fruit snacks and other confectionary delectables. The platform was formed through the combination of Farley’s & Sathers and Ferrara Pan Candy Co. in 2012, and includes iconic brands such as Trolli, Lemonheads, Now & Later, Atomic Fireball and Brach’s.
Many of these brands have endured and prospered for the better part of a hundred years, since Ferrara Pan Candy Co. was founded by Salvatore Ferrara in 1908 as a manufacturer of Italian pastries and sugar coated candy almonds from his bakery in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood.
“As America’s number one maker of non-chocolate confections, we’ve been delivering little bites of goodness for more than a century. And we’re only getting started,” says Ferrara Candy Co. “Sure we’ve got a sweet history — but we’ve got an even richer opportunity for future growth and success.”
L Catterton, formed in January 2016 through the partnership of Catterton, LVMH and Groupe Arnault, is the largest consumer-focused private equity firm in the world, operating multiple funds out of seventeen offices across five continents.
Since its founding in 1989, Catterton has leveraged its category insight, strategic and operating skills, and network of industry contacts to establish one of the strongest private equity investment track records in the middle market. L Catterton builds on this heritage and the strong track record of LVMH and Groupe Arnault’s existing European and Asian private equity and real estate operations, conducted under the L Capital and L Real Estate franchises.
L Catterton invests in all major consumer segments, including: Food and Beverage, Retail and Restaurants, Beauty and Wellness, Fashion and Accessories, Consumer Products and Services, Consumer Health, and Media and Marketing Services, as well as real estate projects anchored by luxury retail.
L Catterton’s investments include: Peloton, Restoration Hardware, CorePower Yoga, Sweaty Betty, Outback Steakhouse, Plum Organics, CHOPT Creative Salad Company, Mendocino Farms, Noodles & Company, PIADA, Hopdoddy, Vroom, Snap Kitchen, Frederic Fekkai, PIRCH, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Wellness pet food, Nature’s Variety pet food, Kettle Foods, Odwalla, P.F. Chang’s, Ba&sh, Sandro and Maje, CellularLine, Vicini / Zanotti, Cigierre, Gant, Nutrition and Sante, Pepe Jeans & Hackett, 2XU, Charles & Keith, Marubi, Bateel, Sasseur, Emperor Watch and Jewelry, Miami Design District and G6 in Ginza – Tokyo, to name a few.