NEW YORK, June 2, 2003 – Private equity investment firms ICV Capital Partners, LLC and Palladium Equity Partners, LLC announced today that they have joined with management to acquire The Hilsinger Company, L.P., a leading supplier of eyewear and eye care accessories in the United States and the United Kingdom. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Hilsinger, based in Plainville, Massachusetts, markets the industry’s broadest line of optical and ophthalmic products, including eyewear replacement parts such as nose pads and screws; optical-related consumer products such as lens cleaners and eyeglass holders; eyewear such as sun clips, sports goggles, and safety glasses; eyewear dispensing products; and ophthalmic products such as pharmaceuticals, examination products and surgical products. The company reported revenues last year of approximately $44 million.
“This is a leading company in a niche industry with strong, proven management,” said Tarrus Richardson, managing director at ICV, “and it has excellent growth prospects, both internally and through acquisitions, in the United States and Europe.”
He noted that the company had acquired a distribution company in Hawes, England, in 1995 to establish a base for its European operations, and in 1998, it acquired Wilson Ophthalmic Corp. of Mustang, Oklahoma, which added significantly to Hilsinger’s revenues.
“A major reason for the ICV and Palladium partnership on this transaction is to provide Hilsinger with significant capital for additional acquisitions in this highly fragmented market,” said Marcos A. Rodriguez, a founder and managing member of Palladium. “Hilsinger has a broad line of top quality products, a loyal customer base and a highly skilled and motivated work force. Everything we see points to continued upward progress and positive results.”
Rodriguez said that Robert Nahmias, president and chief executive officer, and other top management of Hilsinger would continue to lead the company.
Nahmias welcomed the investment from ICV and Palladium.
“These two firms have demonstrated consistently that they have the determination and know-how to grow the companies in which they invest,” Nahmias said, “and this gives me and my colleagues the confidence that Hilsinger’s future is indeed bright.”
Richardson and Rodriguez, who previously worked together at Joseph Littlejohn & Levy and both serve on the board of the Robert Toigo Foundation, said ICV and Palladium invested an equal stake in Hilsinger. Members of the Hilsinger management team and board of directors will also hold a meaningful equity stake in the company.
Merrill Lynch Capital, a division of Merrill Lynch Business Financial Services Inc., arranged a syndicate of lenders that provided senior debt financing for the transaction. Other lenders included Antares Capital, syndication agent, and GE Capital Funding. No subordinated debt was used. Edgeview Partners advised the seller, Capital Partners, a private equity investment firm in Greenwich, Connecticut, that acquired Hilsinger in 1994.
ICV Capital Partners is 51 percent minority owned by Richardson and his partners, Lloyd Metz and Willie Woods, and is focused primarily on investing in market-leading niche companies with revenues ranging from $25 million to $150 million that operate in ethnic-minority and inner-city markets.
ICV is 49 percent owned by ICIC Enterprises, an affiliate of The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, and by American Securities Capital Partners, L.P., a $1 billion private-equity investment firm. ICV’s limited partners are a group of blue chip institutional investors.
Hilsinger is the fifth investment overall for ICV. The firm raised its initial private equity investment fund of $130.5 million, ICV Partners, L.P., in 2001.
Additional information about ICV is available at the firm’s Web site, http://www.icvcapital.com.
Palladium Equity Partners, LLC, based in New York, is a private investment firm founded on the premise that superior financial returns require the combination of highly skilled operating and financial executives. Palladium focuses primarily on companies in basic industries that can benefit from its capital and operating experience.
Formed in 1997, Palladium brings together seasoned professionals who collectively have invested almost $800 million of equity capital in 26 companies and operating executives with significant experience managing Fortune 500 companies. Palladium funded its investment in Hilsinger through Palladium Equity Partners II, L.P. and affiliated funds, a $230 million fund that closed in July 2000. Additional information about Palladium can be found on the firm’s Web site at http://www.palladiumequity.com.