Charlesbank Capital Partners has signed an agreement to acquire employee owned Varsity Brands. Partners Group will co-invest with Charlesbank on the transaction. Varsity Brands’ senior management team, including Jeff Webb, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, will remain in their current positions and also invest in the company alongside Charlesbank and Partners Group. The transaction is expected to close in December 2014.
Varsity Brands includes three businesses – Herff Jones, Varsity Spirit and BSN SPORTS – and specializes in customizable products and programs, including yearbooks and graduation products, cheerleading camps and competitions, and sports apparel and equipment. The company has more than 1,000 sales professionals that provide products and services to the school and institutional markets through catalogs, tele-sales, e-commerce sites, and direct sales channels. Varsity Brands, headquartered in Memphis, had sales last year of approximately $1.2 billion (www.varsitybrands.com).
GreatBanc Trust Company, the trustee of the company’s ESOP, has determined that the sale of Varsity is in the best interest of the ESOP and has approved the sale. As part of this approval process, GreatBanc received a fairness opinion from Duff & Phelps, the ESOP’s financial advisor.
“Over the last several years, Varsity Brands has made steady progress towards serving as the single source for every customer’s sport, spirit, and achievement needs. We now look forward to accelerating this work in partnership with Charlesbank – a preeminent partner that brings unique investment acumen in the education market – and to building on Varsity Brands’ key competitive strengths. These include unparalleled customer reach, leading brands with prominent market positions, and multiple avenues for future growth,” said Mr. Webb.
“We are delighted to partner with Jeff Webb, his talented management team, and our co-lead investor, Partners Group, to provide liquidity to the employee-owners of the business, and we look forward to supporting them as they build on their culture of excellence,” said Andrew Janower, Managing Director at Charlesbank Capital Partners. “Varsity is well-positioned to capitalize on strategic growth opportunities, and we are happy to be part of the bright future for this terrific company.”
Charlesbank Capital Partners invests in management-led buyouts and growth capital financings, typically investing from $50 million to $150 million per transaction in companies with enterprise values of $100 million to $750 million. The firm has $3 billion of capital under management and has offices in Boston and New York (www.charlesbank.com).
Partners Group is a global private markets investment management firm with over $42 billion of assets under management in private equity, private real estate, private infrastructure and private debt. The firm is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, and has over 700 employees across 18 offices around the globe (www.partnersgroup.com).
Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Ares Capital and Crescent Mezzanine have provided debt financing commitments for the transaction. Jefferies served as lead financial advisor to the company and the Board of Directors, with Stout Risius Ross providing related advisory services.
2014 PEPD • Private Equity’s Leading News Magazine • 11-4-14