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Del Monte's former pet unit gets new name it loves: Big Heart Pet Brands

Del Monte's former pet unit gets new name it loves: Big Heart Pet Brands

San Francisco Business Times Online:  Mark Calvey - 19 February 2014

Del Monte's former pet products division has picked up a new moniker after selling off the ubiquitous Del Monte canned food.

San Francisco-based Big Heart Pet Brands' product menu includes Meow Mix, Milk-Bone dog treats, Natural Balance, 9Lives, Pup-Peroni, Gravy Train, and Kibble 'n Bits, among others.

The new name follows the Feb. 18 sale of Del Monte's consumer products operations, including the company's use of the Del Monte name, to Del Monte Pacific Ltd.

It's the more profitable pet products, not the slim margins on canning fruits and vegetables, that likely attracted a $5.3 billion buyout agreement on Thanksgiving Day in 2010[http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2010/11/25/el-monte-agrees-to-private-equity-buyout.html?page=all]. An investor group led by KKR, Vestar Capital Partners and Centerview Partners closed on the deal the following year.

"As a standalone pet products company, Big Heart Pet Brands will be singularly focused on capturing growth opportunities in the expanding $21 billion pet products category," said Dave West, president and CEO of Big Heart Pet Brands. "We are uniquely positioned with a powerful and broad pet portfolio."

Big Heart was eager on Wednesday to tout the pedigree of the industry veterans running Big Heart. West was previously president and CEO at Hershey (NYSE: HSY) before joining Del Monte in 2011. Executives have also worked at Kraft Foods, (NASDAQ: KRFT) Campbell Soup, (NYSE: CPB) PepsiCo, (NYSE: PEP) Clorox, (NYSE: CLX) Procter & Gamble, (NYSE: PG) and Gillette, which P&G now owns. That almost covers the universe of consumer products.

I predict the next big step for Big Heart will be a warm embrace of Wall Street through an initial public offering or outright sale of the company as the investor group looks to cash in on its investment.

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Vestar Capital Partners Announces Promotions

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – January 14, 2014 – Vestar Capital Partners, a leading U.S. private equity firm, announced the promotions of Michael Gross and Winston Song to vice president.

“Mike and Winston are exceptional professionals,” said Dan O’Connell, CEO of Vestar. “They have each made significant, valuable contributions not only in their investment sector specialties but also to the overall firm’s success. We congratulate them, and look forward to their future contributions for the benefit of our investment partners.”

Mr. Gross, a member of Vestar’s Financial Services and Diversified Industries groups, joined the firm in 2008. Previously, he was a member of the Financial Institutions Group at Credit Suisse Securities, where he advised a diverse set of financial institutions in the bank, insurance, asset management, and financial technology sectors.

He holds a BS degree in Business Administration, with majors in Finance and Accounting, from Indiana University. He also holds an MBA degree from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

Mr. Song works in the Consumer and Healthcare groups at Vestar. He rejoined the firm in 2011 after completing graduate degree studies. He first joined the firm in 2006 from Lehman Brothers’ Global Leveraged Finance Group, where he worked on a variety of M&A and private equity-related high yield and leveraged loan financings. Mr. Song began his career with CSFB Strategic Partners, Credit Suisse’s private equity secondary fund.

He holds a BA degree in Economics-Political Science from Columbia University and an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

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Finance Monthly Interview with Vestar Managing Director Brian O’Connor

Vestar Managing Director Brian O’Connor discusses the firm’s latest Consumer acquisitions and his outlook on the Consumer space with the editors of Finance Monthly magazine.

Download a PDF of the interview here.

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Vestar Portfolio Company Press Ganey Acquires Technology Firm

Press Ganey Acquires Technology Firm to Enable Real-Time, Point-of-Care Patient Feedback

January 06, 2014

Innovative Platform Broadens Press Ganey’s Suite of Patient Experience Solutions

South Bend, IndianaPress Ganey, the leading patient experience improvement firm, announced the acquisition of On The Spot Systems®, a point-of-care survey technology firm that enables organizations to capture real-time patient feedback. The acquisition advances Press Ganey’s Patient Voiceportfolio for health care organizations by adding Point of Care to existing modes of mail, phone and eSurvey. Point of Care expands feedback via any tablet or mobile device enabling providers to improve patient engagement across the continuum of care.

“We are excited to bring this next-generation technology to our clients as they look to capture feedback across the entire care experience and achieve greater care coordination,” said Patrick T. Ryan, CEO, Press Ganey. “This solution complements our existing suite of services as it allows providers the ability to understand their patients’ experiences in real time and gives organizations the information to perform critical service reliability and recovery measures.”

The software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based solution allows provider organizations to customize surveys for targeted improvement efforts. Patient feedback is immediately emailed to a triage point for service recovery or operational improvement. Actionable data is presented through an online analytics platform featuring innovative dashboards, word clouds, scorecards and trend reports, which can be exported or scheduled for delivery by email.

“Our vision at On The Spot was to develop a solution that would provide richer data delivered through a cutting-edge system,” said Ken Kimmel, President, On The Spot Systems. “Real-time feedback contains deep insights into the patient experience, which when understood in concert with additional patient feedback sources, has the transformative ability to reshape the health care industry. There is no one better positioned to make this a reality than Press Ganey.”

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Jim Wagner Named CEO of Roland Foods

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – January 3, 2014 – Roland Foods Corporation (“Roland Foods”) today announced that James Wagner, 44, has joined the company as chief executive officer, effective immediately.

Charles E. Scheidt, a member of the company’s founding family and chairman and CEO of Roland Foods, remains with the company as chairman. “Jim Wagner has a great background for Roland Foods, exactly what we had in mind when we shared our intention to appoint a new CEO this past summer,” said Mr. Scheidt. “His successful track record as a senior executive spans exceptional accomplishments in sales, marketing, purchasing, and new product development in the specialty foods industry. Jim is a talented leader who will help Roland Foods accelerate its growth and continue its excellent customer service.”

“In the specialty foods business, Roland Foods is an iconic brand, a highly successful company in a sector with a strong growth outlook,” said Mr. Wagner. “Specialty foods has a powerful upward trajectory, both near- and long-term, and I believe that Roland Foods can significantly expand its already strong leadership position. I am very familiar with Roland Foods high standards of excellence across-the-board, and it’s an honor to be working at the company. Roland Foods has a great team, and I believe that our talent and product lines form a solid foundation for growth.”

Prior to joining Roland Foods, Mr. Wagner served as chief operating officer at The Chefs’ Warehouse. Before becoming COO of The Chefs’ Warehouse, he held a number of positions within the company, including chief commercial officer, director of Business Development, and vice president of the West Coast operations. Mr. Wagner led significant business optimization projects and sales performance initiatives, resulting in substantial margin and revenue enhancement and, ultimately, a successful initial public offering on NASDAQ.

Before joining The Chefs’ Warehouse in 2005, Mr. Wagner worked as an independent consultant to a number of start-up companies, including the launch of TrueChocolate, a chocolate-processing company. He was also a principal at Jump Communications and a vice president at Clear!Blue; both companies provide business consulting services.

Mr. Wagner received a B.A. in History from the University of California, Berkeley in 1993.


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Vestar Portfolio Company Del Monte to Sell Canned Food Business for $1.7 Billion

(Reuters) - Singapore-listed Del Monte Pacific Ltd (DMPL.SI) will buy the canned food business of private equity-backed Del Monte Foods Consumer Products Inc for $1.7 billion, gaining a direct presence in the key U.S. market and reuniting a substantial portion of the Del Monte brand family.

Shares in Del Monte Pacific surged 10 percent on the deal.

It said the acquisition will give it the No. 1 branded position in major canned fruit and vegetable categories in the United States as well as the opportunity to offer some of its own products to the large and fast-growing Asian and Hispanic populations there.

The deal will also allow San Francisco-based Del Monte Foods to concentrate on its pet foods unit, including the recent acquisition of Natural Balance. Del Monte Foods was acquired in 2011 by KKR & Co LP (KKR.N), Vestar Capital Partners and Centerview Capital in a deal valued at $5.3 billion.

With the sale of its canned food business, the company plans to change its name.

Del Monte Pacific, a company that is strong in canned pineapple and tomato sauce, has been enjoying strong growth with net profit nearly trebling over the past three years to $32.1 million in 2012.

The transaction will give it an additional net sales of more than $1.8 billion.

"This landmark transaction offers DMPL greater access to a well-established, attractive and profitable branded consumer food business in the world's biggest market," Del Monte Pacific's Chairman Rolando Gapud said in a statement. Del Monte Pacific, which counts the Philippines as its largest market, is 67 percent-owned by NutriAsia Pacific Ltd (NPL). NPL is owned by the NutriAsia group, which is majority-owned by the Campos family of the Philippines.

With Thursday's share surge, the company's stock is up 76 percent so far this year, valuing the firm at S$1.17 billion ($936 million).

Del Monte Pacific said the deal will be largely funded through a combination of $745 million of equity in a new subsidiary created for the acquisition, as well as long-term debt financing of about $930 million that have been committed by a syndicate of bank lenders. It also plans to issue common and preferred shares in the market.

Perella Weinberg Partners LLC is the lead financial advisor and Citibank is a financial advisor to the company on this transaction.

Pinnacle Foods Inc (PF.N) and Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc (FDP.N) were among the companies that had considered offers for Del Monte Foods' canned foods business, sources have said.

Del Monte Pacific and its subsidiaries are not affiliated with other Del Monte companies in the world, including Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc, Del Monte Canada and Del Monte Asia Pte Ltd.


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Vestar Portfolio Company St. John Knits Announces New Management Team

Irvine, CA – July 18, 2013 – The Board of Directors of St John Knits announced today that Bernd Beetz has been named Chairman of the Board, effective immediately.

“Bernd is a seasoned organization builder and brings an extraordinary level of leadership to the company,” said Jim Kelley, a Founding Partner of majority shareholder Vestar Capital Partners. “With the recent investment by Fosun International and our continued interest in global expansion, we are thrilled to have Bernd both as a partner in this venture and as Chairman of our Board at this pivotal time.”

Mr. Beetz is one of the most prolific executives in the luxury goods industry with almost 40 years of experience. He most recently served as the Chief Executive Officer of Coty Inc. from 2001 to 2012. During his tenure, he developed an ailing business into an industry powerhouse by building the organization and its brands. Coty’s revenue increased from $1.4B to nearly $5B during his time at the company and recently went public with a capitalization of close to $7B.

Bernd Beetz mastered similar challenges as President and CEO of LVMH-owned Parfums Christian Dior France and held various management positions during his 20 years at The Proctor & Gamble Company.

“I’m thankful to Fosun for bringing me this investment opportunity and am thrilled to help usher in a new era at St. John, an iconic American brand with the potential of enormous global reach,” said Mr. Beetz. “I look forward to working with the members of the Board to institute a strong leadership structure that will position the company for even greater worldwide success in the future.”

"We have long admired Bernd Beetz and are happy to have him as our new Chairman of the St. John Board," said Patrick Zhong, Senior Managing Director at Fosun International. "The brand's potential is enormous and there is no one better suited to help us exploit that potential than Bernd."

Bernd Beetz Appoints Geoffroy van Raemdonck CEO of St. John Knits

Irvine, CA – July 22, 2013 – Bernd Beetz, Chairman of St. John Knits, announced today that Geoffroy van Raemdonck has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the company. Mr. van Raemdonck succeeds Glenn McMahon, who served as CEO since 2007.

“Geoffroy has an unparalleled understanding of global wholesale and retail that will be integral as we move into the next phase of the company’s history,” said Bernd Beetz, Chairman of St. John Knits. “He is an excellent leader to drive the executive team and to continue to strengthen and grow the business worldwide.”

A seasoned executive with almost 20 years of experience in retail, Mr. van Raemdonck most recently served as President – South Europe for Louis Vuitton, where he led company operations in 22 countries which generated sales of over $1B. He held several senior level positions during his years at the company. He also previously held positions at Limited Brands and The Boston Consulting Group.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to join an industry force like Bernd Beetz and to further propel this iconic American brand into a phenomenal international business,” said Mr. van Raemdonck. “I look forward to working with the Board and executive team to build upon the strong and successful foundation that they have created.”

St. John Knits retained Herbert Mines Associates in the search for the new CEO.

About St. John Knits

St. John, one of the premier names in American fashion, was founded in 1962. St. John has evolved from a family run operation to the global luxury brand known today. The company, headquartered in Southern California, now employs over 2,500 people and is a vertical operation with offices worldwide. Its collection is sold by top specialty store retailers in 26 countries and 25 company-owned retail boutiques. For more information on St. John, visit the company’s website at www.discoverstjohn.com.

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Vestar Names Norm Alpert, Rob Rosner Co-Presidents


NEW YORK, NY – July 1, 2013 – Vestar Capital Partners (“Vestar”), a leading U.S. middle-market private equity firm, today announced that Norman W. Alpert and Robert L. Rosner have been named co-presidents of the Firm, effective immediately.

“I am pleased to continue to recognize Norm’s and Rob’s valuable contributions to the Firm, as original Vestar co-founders and as strong leaders over many years,” said Dan O’Connell, CEO of Vestar. “Most recently, they played key roles in the execution of our realization initiative, which returned in excess of $2.4 billion to our partners.

“Since the Firm’s founding in 1988, Vestar has raised in excess of $9 billion of capital and completed 70 investments in companies with a total value of more than $40 billion,” said Mr. O’Connell. “I look forward to continuing to work closely with Norm and Rob as we identify opportunities for our most recent fund, Vestar VI, and continue to build value in our existing portfolio of companies.”

Vestar also confirmed today that it has closed and activated its sixth private equity fund, Vestar Capital Partners VI, with total commitments of $804 million.

“We see exceptional opportunities in our sweet spot, the North American middle market, and Vestar VI has ample firepower to capture these attractive investments,” said Mr. O’Connell. “Our Limited Partners concur with this strategy and are supportive of our decision to close Vestar VI and move forward.”

Mr. O’Connell said that Vestar VI is targeting equity investments in the range of $50 million to $150 million in U.S.-based middle-market companies with enterprise values ranging from $250 million to $750 million. “Over the past 25 years, we have built a reputation as an strong partner with company management teams. We are confident that our deep experience in creating value will continue to deliver the superior returns that are this Firm’s hallmark,” he said.

“Vestar's organization is exceptionally deep in talent and experience. Confidence in our new fund is very strong. We're quite bullish on the current outlook," said Mr. Rosner.

“Our Firm has evolved to take advantage of unique and compelling investment opportunities in the middle market. Our experienced team of investment professionals and our performance track record provide Vestar with a convincing competitive advantage,” said Mr. Alpert.

Norman W. Alpert

Mr. Alpert, 54, is a managing director and one of the founding partners of Vestar Capital. He is a member of Vestar’s Executive and Investment Committees and is actively involved across many of Vestar’s industry sectors.

Mr. Alpert will continue as co-head of Vestar’s Healthcare/Digital Media/Information Services Sectors. He is currently a director of HealthGrades, MediMedia USA, Inc., St John Knits, Inc., and Press Ganey Associates, Inc.

Mr. Alpert began his career in 1980 as a commercial banker at Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company as a member of the Special Finance Division. He joined the Management Buyout Group at The First Boston Corporation in 1984, before leaving in 1988 to launch Vestar Capital Partners. He is a 1980 graduate of Brown University with an AB degree in American History and Economics.

Mr. Alpert serves on the boards of Brown University, The Brown Hillel Foundation, the Brown University Sports Foundation, the National Rowing Foundation, American Friends of Shalva (the association for mentally and physically challenged children in Israel), and White Plains Hospital.

Robert L. Rosner

Mr. Rosner, 53, is a managing director and one of the founding partners of Vestar Capital. He is a member of Vestar’s Executive and Investment Committees. Before returning to Vestar’s New York office in 2011, Mr. Rosner ran Vestar’s highly successful European operations for more than a decade. During that time, Vestar invested $1.2 billion in nine companies. Those investments, now fully realized, returned $2.1 billion – a 1.7x realized cash MOI – to Limited Partners.

Mr. Rosner will continue as co-head of Vestar’s Diversified Industries/Financial Services Sectors. He is currently a director of Triton Container International Limited, Radiation Therapy Services, Inc. and OGF Group.

Mr. Rosner was previously a member of the Management Buyout Group of The First Boston Corporation, where he worked with the other members of Vestar’s founding team before leaving in 1988 to launch Vestar Capital Partners. He holds an MBA, with distinction, from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Economics from Trinity College. Mr. Rosner is a member of the Graduate Executive Board of The Wharton School and the Board of Trustees of The Lawrenceville School.

About Vestar Capital Partners

Vestar Capital Partners is a leading U.S. middle-market private equity firm specializing in management buyouts and growth capital investments. The Firm is targeting equity investments in the range of $50 million to $150 million in U.S.-based middle-market companies with enterprise values ranging from $250 million to $750 million.

The Firm has extensive experience investing across a wide variety of industries including Consumer, Healthcare, Digital Media, Information Services, Diversified Industries, and Financial Services. Vestar invests and collaborates with incumbent management teams and private owners in a creative, flexible and entrepreneurial way to build long-term enterprise value.

Since the Firm’s founding in 1988, the Vestar funds have completed 70 investments in companies with a total value of more than $40 billion. For more information, please visit www.vestarcapital.com.


Owen Blicksilver Public Relations
Carol Makovich
(203) 622-4781
[email protected]

Jennifer Hurson
(845) 507-0571
[email protected]

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Symetra Financial Buys Back Shares from Vestar Capital

By Matt Blumenfeld - SNL Insurance Daily - May 22, 2013

Symetra Financial Corp. purchased 6,089,999 of its common shares May 17 from certain affiliates of Vestar Capital Partners Inc., according to a Form 8-K filed May 21.

Symetra's board also authorized May 21 the expansion of the current stock repurchase program up to a total of 16 million common shares from the previously authorized amount of 10 million shares.

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Vestar Agrees to Sell Duff & Phelps

By David Carey and Cecile Daurat - Bloomberg L.P. - Dec 31, 2012

Vestar Capital Partners, which yesterday agreed to sell Duff & Phelps Corp. (DUF) to investors including Carlyle Group LP (CG) for $665.5 million, will reap a more than three-times return on its stake in the investment-banking firm.

Vestar, a New York-based buyout firm, paid about $53 million for a 34 percent stake in Duff & Phelps in 2005, according to a person familiar with the transaction, who asked not to be identified because the terms are private. Vestar previously pocketed about $160 million from the company in share sales and distributions, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It stands to get another $35.6 million when the sale is completed, the person said.

Vestar and Lovell Minnick Partners LLC, a Philadelphia-based buyout firm that invested an undisclosed amount in 2004, took Duff & Phelps public in 2007, raising about $133 million in an initial offering. The two private-equity firms subsequently cashed out the bulk of their holdings through follow-on sales.

Vestar, created in 1988 by Daniel S. O'Connell, Sander M. Levy and other members of First Boston Corp.'s buyout team, oversees about $7 billion in assets, according to its website. Levy did not return a call seeking comment on the transaction.

Ebitda Multiple

Carlyle and its Duff & Phelps co-investors -- Swiss bank Picter & Cie, U.S. private-equity firm Stone Point Capital LLC and Geneva-based Edmond de Rothschild Group -- are paying about eight times trailing 12-month earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the 80-year-old company. Revenue at the firm, which also provides financial-advisory services, is predicted to rise 17 percent this year to $465.8 million, the average of five analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Shares of Duff & Phelps, which has more than 1,000 employees worldwide, have declined 10 percent this year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 12 percent. The stock advanced 1.9 percent to $13.05 on Dec. 28, below the 2007 initial public offering price of $16.

The Duff & Phelps merger agreement provides for a "go-shop" period ending on Feb. 8, during which the company can solicit and receive alternative proposals. Duff & Phelps would pay a break-up fee of about $6.65 million if it gets a higher bid and ends the agreement before March 8.