Fenway sees 4x return from optical exit

The mid-market firm has sold contact lens business 1- 800 CONTACTS five years after taking the company private for $340m.

New York-based mid-market firm Fenway Partners has sealed its first exit of 2012, selling contact lens provider 1-  800 CONTACTS to NYSE-listed healthcare company WellPoint.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but a source familiar with the situation said the deal generated a 4x return multiple for Fenway. The firm took 1- 800 CONTACTS private in 2007 for $340 million, investing from its $702 million third fund. Fenway Partners Capital Fund III, which closed in 2008, is roughly 75 percent invested, though the source said the firm would not be coming to market with a fourth fund until 2013 at the earliest. 

Sonenshine Partners acted as financial advisor on the transaction, which is expected to close during the third quarter of 2012.

Fenway currently has investments in nine portfolio companies acquired through its second and third funds, including protective sports equipment company Easton Bell and refrigeration company Preferred Freezer Services. The firm focuses on the branded consumer product industry and invests in companies worth between $100 million and $600 million in enterprise value.

Founded in 1994, Fenway makes control investments of between $50 million and $75 million in US-based companies.