TH Lee to buy pet supplies co for $360m

A week after its multibillion Refco recap, the Boston firm, through portfolio holding United Industries, agreed to buy United Pet Group from private equity firms TA Associates and Friend Skoler.

United Industries Corporation, held by Boston-based private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, has agreed to buy United Pet Group (UPG) for $360 million (€300 million).

UPG, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, manufactures and markets pet supplies for dogs, cats, fish, birds and small animals under such brand names as Dingo, Lazy Pet and Jungle Talk. The company is currently held by management and private equity firms TA Associates, based in Boston, and Friend Skoler, based in Saddle Brook, New Jersey.

The combined companies are expected to have annual sales of approximately $1 billion, according to a press statement.

St. Louis, Missouri-based United Industries, which markets under Spectrum Brands, manufactures consumer lawn and garden products and is one of the largest companies in this US sector. In the statement, Bob Caulk, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, said the purchase will broaden United Industries’ customer base in North America and smooth the seasonality of its business.

The purchase of UPG is United Industries’ fifth in three years. At the end of April, the company completed its acquisition of Canadian consumer lawn and garden competitor Nu-Grow.

The purchase follows last week’s announcement that Thomas H. Lee agreed to acquire a majority stake in futures trader Refco in a recapitalisation worth $2.25 billion (€1.86 billion).

The sale of UPG by Friend Skoler follows the close of the firm’s debut third-party $231 million (€194 million). The firm was founded in 1998 hand has primarily been backed by capital contributions from the partners of New York buyout giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. The firm utilised a ‘pledge fund’ structure, by which backers may decide whether and how much to contribute on a deal-by-deal basis.