Brynwood adds to portfolio yet again

by Eric Schroeder
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GREENWICH, CONN. — Private equity firm Brynwood Partners VII L.P. continued its trend of buying food brands with the announcement that its newly-formed portfolio company, JPC Acquisition Co., has acquired Joseph’s Pasta Co. from Nestle Prepared Foods Co. Terms and conditions of the transaction were not disclosed.

Headquartered in Haverhill, Mass., Joseph’s Pasta makes frozen stuffed pasta for the food service segment. Its artisan products include stuffed cannelloni, stuffed ravioli, stuffed tortellini, gnocchi, and manicotti. The business employs more than 30 people. Nestle acquired Joseph’s in 2006.

“We are pleased to announce the acquisition of Joseph’s from Nestle,” said Henk Hartong, senior managing partner at Brynwood Partners. “Joseph’s manufactures delicious and unique products in its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. We are excited about the opportunity to accelerate innovation and explore new distribution channels. We look forward to investing in the business and working with Joseph’s loyal and talented employees to grow and enhance the business. I would like to thank the Nestle team for its partnership and assistance in transitioning the business.”

Brynwood has experience in the frozen food space. Brynwood Partners invested in Richelieu Foods, Inc., a private label manufacturer of frozen pizza and salad dressings. Richelieu Foods was a portfolio company of Brynwood Partners V L.P. and was divested in 2010.

“We had a great deal of success with Richelieu Foods in the frozen food space in both the retail and food service channels,” Mr. Hartong said. “We hope to be able to utilize some of that experience in the Joseph’s investment.”

The acquisition marks the first for Brynwood VII, Brynwood Partners’ largest and most recently raised fund with $400 million of committed capital. Including Joseph’s, Brynwood Partners has completed five acquisitions from Nestle, with this being the second in the past year. Earlier in 2013, Brynwood Partners VI L.P.’s portfolio company, Pearson Candy Co., acquired the Bit-O-Honey brand from Nestle.

In its 29-year history, Brynwood Partners has acquired 40 corporate brands from 15 different corporate sellers. The firm has active investments in the food space, including:

DeMet’s Candy Co. (Brynwood V portfolio company), a U.S.-based chocolate confectionery company manufacturing and marketing the Turtles, Flipz, and Treasures brands. On Dec. 27, 2013, Brynwood agreed to sell DeMet’s to Yildiz Holding A.S., Istanbul, Turkey-based owner of the Godiva chocolate brand, for $221 million.

• Back to Nature Foods Company, L.L.C. (Brynwood VI portfolio company), a marketer of Back to Nature natural food products, including crackers, cookies, nuts, granolas, and juices. On Dec. 30, 2013, Back to Nature Foods acquired the SnackWell’s cookies and snacks business from Mondelēz Global L.L.C.

• Pearson Candy Co. (Brynwood VI portfolio company), a manufacturer and marketer of confectionery brands, including Pearson’s Salted Nut Roll, Pearson’s Mint Patties, Pearson’s Nut Goodies, Pearson’s Bun and Bit-O-Honey. Pearson Candy is headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., and has been owned by Brynwood since August 2011.

• Lightlife Foods, Inc. (Brynwood VI portfolio company), a manufacturer and marketer of soy-based vegetarian burgers, hot dogs, tempeh, and other refrigerated and frozen items in the meat alternative category under the Lightlife brand. Brynwood acquired Lightlife in September 2013.

Prior investments by Brynwood Partners in the food space include Sun Country Foods, Inc., Balance Bar Co., Lincoln Snacks Co., and Signature Snacks Co.
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