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aPriori Capital sells its interest in Inspiring Learning to Bridgepoint Development Capital

aPriori Capital has sold its interest in Inspiring Learning, a UK headquartered provider of residential activity centres and educational trips for primary and secondary school children, to Bridgepoint Development Capital for an undisclosed sum.

The company has two divisions – Kingswood, an operator of 10 residential activity centres with over 4,000 beds principally in the North, East and South East of the UK. This is the larger part of the group and has a 30 year heritage in providing educational residential courses for school children and also provides the residential element of the government’s National Citizenship Service aimed at 15-17 year olds. In addition, Kingswood also operates Camp Beaumont Day Centres which provide non-residential day and multiple-day courses for working parents in London during the school holidays. The company’s other division, Equity, provides curriculum linked educational tours, ski trips and sports tours.

Kingswood has demonstrated a strong track record of growth under the current management team, opening new sites and expanding existing ones to provide its broad base of school customers with high quality facilities and tailored activities that meet their ‘out of classroom’ learning objectives.

November 15th, 2016|

In the Spotlight …

Susan Schnabel, co-managing partner of aPriori Capital Partners, can list portfolio company Visant Holding Corp., as graduated, especially after the owner of class ring and yearbook maker Jostens is sold for $1.5 billion. The acquirer is publicly traded Jarden Corp., which owns such brands as Mr. Coffee, Oster kitchen products, Rawlings sporting goods and Yankee Candle gifts.

“The sale of Visant to Jarden will result in the final realization of a successful transaction,” Susan tells Women’s PE Briefs. Visant was formed in 2004, by private equity firms KKR and DLJ Merchant Banking, by combining Jostens with several other companies. DLJ Merchant Banking’s portfolio is now managed by aPriori, whose team is comprised of former members of DLJ Merchant Banking, including Susan. DLJ originally acquired Jostens in 2003. Visant’s largest unit, Jostens generates some $740 million in revenue. Founded in 1897, it gets about 45 percent of its revenue from yearbooks and 45 percent from class rings, caps and gowns, and other high school products. The remaining 10 percent comes from sales of similar products to colleges and professional sports teams. Jostens is the leading seller of championship rings to pro teams.

Susan, who served on Visant’s board, said she and aPriori “are very pleased” for the Jostens’ team, as the transaction “allows them to fulfill their long-term objectives and realize their growth potential.” Susan, who served on Visant’s board, was co-head of DLJ Merchant Banking, which was a unit of Credit Suisse. Last year, Susan helped spin DLJ Merchant Banking out of Credit Suisse and into aPriori. The move was made as part of Credit Suisse’s efforts to divest itself of its alternative investment holdings. When the spin-off was completed, aPriori managed funds holding approximately $2 billion of value across 22 portfolio companies. Earlier this year, aPriori announced that one of the funds it is managing, DLJ Merchant Banking Partners Fund III, had been successfully wound up after 15 years, with investors either provided with liquidity or the option to invest in remaining assets. Visant was a portfolio company within that fund.

Last year, another of Susan’s portfolio companies, Deffenbaugh Disposal, Inc., was sold to Waste Management, Inc. Susan joined Credit Suisse in 2000, when Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette merged with Credit Suisse First Boston. She was a board member of Neiman Marcus, which was sold, in 2013, to Ares Management and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for $6 billion. Susan is also a director of: Arcade Marketing, Enduring Resources, Laramie Energy, Luxury Optical Holdings, Merrill Corp., and Summit Gas Resources. » Read More

October 16th, 2015|

Jarden Announces Agreement To Acquire Jostens For Approximately $1.5 Billion

Jarden Corporation (“Jarden” or the “Company”) (NYSE: JAH), a leading global consumer products company, announced today that it has entered into a definitive purchase agreement to acquire Visant Holding Corp. (“Visant”), the parent company of Jostens, Inc. and other entities comprising the Jostens business (“Jostens”), for an enterprise value of approximately $1.5 billion from investment funds managed by KKR, aPriori Capital Partners, and other stockholders, or approximately 7.5x adjusted EBITDA. Jostens is a market-leading, iconic brand and trusted partner to schools and students nationwide, helping them celebrate moments that matter since 1897. Jostens product portfolio is made up of high quality yearbooks, class and championship rings for students and professional athletes, caps and gowns, diplomas, and varsity jackets. » Read More

October 14th, 2015|

The Rise of the Exclusionary Auction

Cash is often king when trying to sell a business. Yet that isn’t always the only consideration in determining to whom-or what-to sell.

For instance, when Steve Bowser, the president and third-generation owner of Dayton, Ohio’s Bowser-Morner Inc., started thinking about selling the company, what he ruled out was a sale to private equity. Instead, Bowser said he was working on selling the 104-year old company that his grandfather purchased in the 1920s to his lieutenants.

“Our objective has always been looking for long-term, consistent growth and a reasonable return,” he said.

While Bowser had decided not to hand over his third-generation business to another company or a financial sponsor, the practice of excluding one or the other type of buyer from an auction isn’t uncommon. Perhaps as many as one in five auctions occur where the seller has already decided that it will consider offers from strategic bidders, or from financial sponsors, but not both. Experts estimate that where a business is being exclusionary in its process, 10% of auctions are limited to strategic buyers while 20% are limited to private equity.

Some of that decision goes back to getting the best price for the business.

It’s a rule of thumb that a strategic will pay a higher premium than a financial sponsor-usually because the acquirer expects to realize cost savings from a combination. “There are definitely situations where a seller will insist on only strategics in a process because of the perception they can pay more due to synergies,” Susan Schnabel, co-managing partner at aPriori Capital Partners LP in Los Angeles, said in an interview.

“You’ll see that it’s actually very common,” David Hellier, partner at Bertram Capital in San Mateo, Calif., said in a recent telephone interview.

In fact, it’s common enough, Hellier added, that even financial sponsors looking to flip an asset that’s in their portfolio will decide to leave other private equity firms out of the bidding process. “We try to purpose-build our portfolio companies to be sold to strategics,” he said.

Trucking and logistics company ReTransportation Inc., a portfolio company of Tailwind Capital LLC, which acquired the business more than three years ago, decided to offer the company to strategic buyers and exclude financial buyers altogether.

“We decided to approach only a handful of strategics and stayed away from the private equity community,” Jeff Calhoun, a Tailwind managing director, said in an interview.

However, Curtis Tatham, co-head of financial sponsors group at the Chicago investment bank Lincoln International, said that, “in most situations, we’re going to go to both.” The bankers who advise business owners on an asset sale tend to have tremendous influence with the sellers, and will generally be the voice that determines whether an auction process will include both strategic and financial sponsors.

Financial sponsors, however, can be useful to situations where existing management remains committed to the business, but needs resources-either financial or operational-that a private equity firm can provide. “With several of our recent deals, the founder that owned the business saw significant opportunities in their business but didn’t have the resources to exploit them,” Hellier said. “Bertram offered a competitive price, but we also had the resources and cultural fit that they were looking for.”

PE firms can also be the more attractive option to business owners who don’t want to reveal trade secrets to a broad spectrum of strategic buyers. “There can be some real damage to the business” created by the due diligence process, Schnabel said. “When there are serious competitive or trade secret threats might you insist on financial sponsors-only in an auction.”

And there are those rare circumstances in which a large, perhaps even publicly traded company, is trying to carve a niche asset out of a larger business line. The company doesn’t want to send the market a signal that it’s been nursing a wounded business, or that it’s not up to the task of turning around the operation.

There is also another voice in the process-that of the banker advising the company, who, in the end, wants a deal done at the best possible price for the client and, not incidentally, for the fees his or her firm can earn.

» Read More

September 24th, 2015|

Questar Subsidiary Wexpro Announces Drilling Joint Venture to Develop Natural Gas-Producing Properties

SALT LAKE CITY–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Questar Corporation today announced that its subsidiary, Wexpro Company, has entered into a joint venture to develop natural gas-producing properties in western Colorado’s Piceance Basin. Wexpro will partner with Piceance Energy, LLC, a subsidiary of Laramie Energy II, LLC, and a leader in developing low-cost drilling and completion strategies in the basin.

Wexpro expects to spend $60 million to $70 million on an 80-well drilling program targeting the Mesaverde formation. The partners will begin drilling in the Collbran Valley in Mesa County in early October 2015, and continue through early 2017. The joint-development agreement also provides Wexpro options to acquire development rights for deeper formations and, with mutual consent, to significantly extend and expand the drilling program up to 300 wells, depending on commodity prices.

“We are excited to partner with Laramie Energy,” said Ron Jibson, Questar chairman, president and CEO. “Laramie’s extensive experience in the Piceance Basin and our historic success in exploring and developing reserves in the Mesaverde formation in other basins of the Rockies is a good match. We view the joint venture as another step in our strategy to expand the company’s cost-of-service model, which provides a long-term hedge against natural gas-price volatility. The resulting low-cost natural gas production could work very well in providing gas supply on a cost-of-service basis to utilities and other users.”

Under the terms of unique agreements in Utah and Wyoming, Wexpro currently produces gas from certain properties at cost of service benefiting Questar Gas’s utility customers. Wexpro believes that similar cost-of-service arrangements can benefit customers or partners who purchase volumes of natural gas production and would like to create an effective long-term price hedge on a portion of their supply needs. A current partner of Wexpro is in the process of obtaining board approval to participate in the production from these wells on a cost-of-service basis.

» Read More

September 22nd, 2015|

aPriori Capital Partners Announces Wind-up of DLJ Merchant Banking Partners Fund III Following 15 Years of Successful Investing and Strong Return Period

aPriori Capital Partners announces the successful wind-up of DLJ Merchant Banking Partners Fund III (“MBPIII”). MBPIII investors were provided the option of full liquidity for their interests in the fund or re-investment in a small group of MBPIII’s remaining assets. A consortium of investors provided the funding for those MBPIII investors choosing the liquidity option.

Since its inception in 2000, MBPIII has generated outstanding performance for our investors. In total, the $5.6 billion of original investment cost has generated $14.2 billion in gross proceeds or 2.5x cost and a gross IRR of 27%. These results are a testament to the efforts and dedication of MBPIII’s investment and administration professionals and our portfolio company partners alike.

With the wind-up of MBPIII, the aPriori team would like to thank all of our MBPIII investors for their support over the past 15 years. We look forward to continuing to work together in the future. As the private equity industry continues to grow and mature, achieving superior performance requires focus, deep experience and exceptional capabilities in identifying attractive investments and enhancing portfolio returns post-investment. aPriori remains committed to these objectives and to our investors.

About aPriori Capital Partners

aPriori Capital Partners is a private equity fund manager with offices in New York, London and Los Angeles. We manage several private equity funds including DLJ Merchant Banking Partners IV, L.P.. The Firm was created in connection with the spin-off of DLJ Merchant Banking Partners from Credit Suisse in 2014. We focus on middle-market leveraged buyouts in the US and Europe in specific sectors, including healthcare, energy, retail and consumer, business services and certain industrial sectors.

April 7th, 2015|

Waste Management to acquire Deffenbaugh Disposal:

Waste Management, Inc. has agreed to acquire the outstanding stock of privately owned waste disposal and recycling company Deffenbaugh Disposal, Inc. The deal is expected to close in the next few months, and is subject to expiration or termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act and other customary closing conditions. » Read More

October 29th, 2014|
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