Pass the Syrup – Brynwood Buys Pancake Maker

Brynwood Partners, through its eighth fund, has acquired De Wafelbakkers from The Oklahoma Publishing Company, a subsidiary of the Anschutz Corporation.

De Wafelbakkers is a manufacturer of branded, co-manufactured and private label frozen pancakes, waffles and French toast. The company’s products are distributed throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico through the grocery, mass retail, and foodservice channels.

De Wafelbakkers was founded in 1984 as an importer of waffles from a bakery in Holland. In 1986, the company opened an Arkansas-based bakery to makes its own waffles based on the Holland recipe. In 2008, the company was acquired by The Oklahoma Publishing Company (OPUBCO), the owner of The Oklahoman, a daily newspaper published and controlled by the Oklahoma City-based Gaylord family. In 2011, OPUBCO was acquired by the Anschutz Corporation and later, in 2018, OPUBCO’s media assets were sold to GateHouse Media with Anschutz retaining the non-media assets, including De Wafelbakkers.Anschutz Corporation is a privately held investment company headquartered in Denver. The company and its many affiliates have ownership interests in movie theater chains, music producers, newspaper publishing, performing arts centers, professional soccer teams, and oil exploration companies. Anschutz was founded in 1958 by Fred Anschutz, an oil and gas wildcatter and the father of Philip Anschutz, who assumed control of the company in 1962. In 2020, Forbes ranked Philip Anschutz, the principal owner of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and a minority owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, as the 50th richest person in the United States, with an estimated net worth of $10 billion.

Today, De Wafelbakkers has 650 employees, and it operates a 100,000 sq. ft. manufacturing and headquarters facility in North Little Rock, Arkansas, and a 98,000 sq. ft. facility located just south of Atlanta in McDonough, Georgia.

“We are pleased to announce the acquisition of De Wafelbakkers,” said Henk Hartong III, the chairman and CEO of Brynwood. “Brynwood already has a presence in the breakfast category through its dry mix offerings with its Hungry Jack and Arrowhead Mills brands, owned by Brynwood portfolio company Hometown Food Company.  We also have extensive experience in the frozen manufacturing space and believe that we can partner with the management team to accelerate performance in the De Wafelbakkers business.  The frozen pancake, waffle and French toast market is a growing space, and we are excited to be invested in the category with such a significant manufacturing player.”

Greenwich, Connecticut-based Brynwood is an operationally focused firm that makes control investments in North American-based lower middle-market companies. The firm targets non-core brands or companies operating exclusively in the consumer sector. Brynwood’s eighth fund closed in January 2018 with $649 million of capital.

“On behalf of Brynwood, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to OPUBCO and the Anschutz Corporation for being such great partners to us on this transaction,” said Ian MacTaggart, the president, CFO and COO of Brynwood. “We look forward to working closely with the company’s management team and loyal employees to transition the business to its next phase of growth.”

With the buy of De Wafelbakkers, Brynwood’s investments in the food and beverage sector now includes Harvest Hill Beverage Company, Carolina Beverage Group, Hometown Food Company, Buitoni Food Company and Great Kitchens Food Company. When combined, these investments have a total of 16 facilities, just over 4,100 employees, and more than $2.2 billion in annual sales.

William Blair was the financial advisor to De Wafelbakkers on this transaction.

© 2021 Private Equity Professional | April 8, 2021

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