Lakeview Buys Mochi Ice Cream
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Lakeview Buys Mochi Ice Cream

Lakeview Capital, through its affiliated funds, has acquired The Mochi Ice Cream Company from Century Park Capital Partners. Century Park acquired the business – then Mikawaya, a 105-year-old producer of Japanese pastries and specialty frozen desserts – in July 2015.

The Mochi Ice Cream Company (MICC) is known as the creator of mochi ice cream, a small, round dessert ball consisting of a soft, pounded sticky rice cake (mochi) on the outside and an ice cream filling on the inside.  The most popular flavors are green tea and mango, as well as more traditional favorites like kona coffee, cookies and cream, mint chip, chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and others.

MICC’s products – sold under the brand names My/Mo and Mikawaya – are distributed through both regional and national grocery chains and independent stores, as well as through Japanese and general food service locations. The company estimates that it has an 80% share of the mochi ice cream market.

Competing mochi ice cream brands include Hawaii-based Bubbies (owned by Chicago-based Kenex Holdings), Maeda-En (owned by California-based G.T. Japan) and Mr. Mochi (owned by New York-based MGT Foods).

MICC, led by CEO Craig Berger, was founded in 1910 by Ryuzaburo Hashimoto and is headquartered near Los Angeles in Vernon, California.

“Under Lakeview’s ownership, we are very excited to continue building on the incredible momentum we have generated,” said Mr. Berger. “Lakeview has a proven track record of success, and through our shared vision and collaboration, we will continue to grow and expand our business.” Mr. Berger and other members of the MICC management team will remain with the company in their current roles under Lakeview ownership.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with a focused, seasoned management team to support growth in the snack category, a segment we find very attractive,” said Jake Freeman, director of investments for Lakeview Capital. “We are closely aligned with the team on our plans to deploy significant capital to continue to build a leading, global branded mochi snack platform.”

Lakeview Capital is a family office based in Birmingham, Michigan. The firm is affiliated with Jay Alix, the founder of turnaround consulting firm Alix Partners.

Century Park invests from $10 million to $40 million in middle-market companies that have revenues of $20 million to $100 million and EBITDA of $3 million to $15 million. The firm is based near Los Angeles in El Segundo, California.

Martin Sarafa, a managing partner at Century Park, led the investment in MICC. “The Mochi Ice Cream Company has become one of the fastest-growing branded snacking platforms in the country. The future for mochi ice cream is incredibly bright and we could not be prouder of what this team has accomplished,” said Mr. Sarafa.

“Century Park has been an incredible partner for The Mochi Ice Cream Company,” added Mr. Berger. “Their strategic vision and operating philosophy plus their outstanding relationship with the senior management team unleashed the tremendous growth of the My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream brand. It has been a great four-plus years and we can’t thank them enough for all of their support. We look forward to carrying the positive momentum into our next phase of growth with Lakeview Capital.”

Financing for this transaction was provided by LBC Credit Partners, PineBridge Investments and WhiteHorse Capital.

Houlihan Lokey was the financial advisor to Century Park, and Lakeview Capital was advised by Plante Moran.

© 2020 Private Equity Professional | January 31, 2020

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