MidOcean Goes Cajun with Latest Buy

MidOcean Goes Cajun with Latest Buy

Louisiana Fish Fry products include spices and seasonings; seafood boils; breadings and batters; sauces and marinades


MidOcean Partners has acquired Louisiana Fish Fry, a manufacturer and supplier of branded, Louisiana-inspired food products, from Peak Rock Capital.

Louisiana Fish Fry’s (LFF) products include spices and seasonings; seafood boils; breadings and batters; sauces and marinades; and rice mixes. The company’s products are sold to grocery and mass-market retailers as well as foodservice customers. LFF was founded by the Pizzolato family in 1982 and is led by CEO Michael Morse with a headquarters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Peak Rock acquired LFF in October 2018 and during its ownership term the firm transitioned the company from family to institutional ownership, opened new distribution facilities, and organically increased its employee base by more than 75%.

“It has been a great pleasure working with the LFF management team over the last three years,” said Robert Strauss, a managing director of Peak Rock. “In partnership with Peak Rock, LFF has made significant investments across the organization, accelerated the company’s new product innovation efforts, achieved significant distribution gains, and continued to expand Louisiana Fish Fry’s brand awareness, all of which have driven strong sales growth and positioned the company for long-term success.”

MidOcean and the company’s management team intend to pursue both organic initiatives and add-on acquisitions. “MidOcean has been evaluating opportunities in the branded food category for a number of years and is thrilled to partner with Louisiana Fish Fry’s exceptional management team for the company’s next phase of growth,” said Daniel Penn, a managing director at MidOcean. “Our focus in this sector has been in partnership with DJ Jenson, a MidOcean operating partner with over 30 years of expertise in the industry and who will serve as chairman of the Louisiana Fish Fry board. Joining DJ on the board will be two of our other operating partners, Tony DeLio and Lisa Mann, both of whom have highly relevant branded food experience, as well as Dave Moran, a long-time industry executive and investor.”

Prior to joining MidOcean in 2019, Mr. Jenson was an operating partner with North Castle Partners, a middle-market private equity team focused on consumer brands within the healthy, active and sustainable living sectors. His experience includes work on more than 25 portfolio platforms in the food and beverage, beauty and personal care, apparel and footwear, sports and fitness, specialty nutrition and sustainable living. Earlier in his career, he held senior leadership roles at The Timberland Company (outdoor footwear) as president of business development, and The Burton Corporation (snowboards) as a senior vice president.

“I’m excited to partner with the Louisiana Fish Fry management team and look forward to driving growth and building on the legacy of this incredible brand,” said Mr. Jenson. “Louisiana Fish Fry offers a wide variety of authentic, delicious products for its customers with numerous avenues for continued growth. We plan to focus on maintaining the strong heritage of the brand, while also expanding into new geographies, channels and product lines.”

“We are excited to partner with MidOcean to continue driving outsized growth for Louisiana Fish Fry,” said Mr. Morse. “MidOcean has an impressive track record in executing transformational growth. Their partnership, expertise and industry knowledge will enable us to dedicate our focus to key areas of our strategy, such as investment in our people and organic sales growth, which will come from expanded distribution and product development. We look forward to better serving our customers and end consumers while expanding into new markets.”

MidOcean invests in middle-market companies that are active in the business and consumer services sectors. In September 2018, the firm held a final close of its latest fund, MidOcean Partners V LP, at its hard cap of $1.2 billion in limited partner commitments. The new fund was oversubscribed and closed above its original $1 billion target. MidOcean was founded in 2003 and is based in New York City.

Austin-based Peak Rock makes debt and equity investments of $30 million to $300 million in middle-market companies with revenues from $50 million to $1 billion and enterprise values from $50 million to $750 million. Sectors of interest include business and technology-enabled services; consumer products and services; distribution and logistics; energy; food and beverage; healthcare; industrial manufacturing; metals; and technology.

“Our investment in Louisiana Fish Fry demonstrates Peak Rock’s ability to drive transformative growth across branded food and beverage businesses as well as founder- and family-owned companies,” said Anthony DiSimone, the chief executive officer of Peak Rock. “We look forward to partnering with other branded businesses that can benefit from Peak Rock’s strategic and operational expertise and collaboration.”

Morgan Stanley & Co. was the financial advisor to Louisiana Fish Fry.

© 2021 Private Equity Professional | August 4, 2021

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