Willis Stein gobbles up snack food co

The Chicago firm buys Lincoln Snacks Company from Brynwood Partners in its second deal in the past week.

Chicago-based private equity firm Willis Stein & Partners has completed the purchase of Lincoln Snacks Company from Stamford, Connecticut-based private equity firm Brynwood Partners.


Terms of the deal were not disclosed, according to the statement.


Lincoln Snacks makes caramelized popcorn and nut snacks under the brand names Poppycock, Poppycock Just the Nuts!, Fiddle Faddle and Screaming Yellow Zonkers. Brynwood originally purchased the publicly held company in 1998 and took it private in October 2001. As part of the deal, Brynwood is keeping the Flipz candy-coated pretzel and graham unit of Lincoln.


According to the statement, Willis Stein is appointing Tim Healy, a food and beverage industry veteran, as Lincoln’s new chairman and chief executive officer. The company’s headquarters are relocating from Stamford to Chicago.


“Willis Stein intends to build on the success Lincoln has enjoyed over the past six years through additional investment in new products, manufacturing capacity and sales and marketing,” Willis Stein managing partner Avy Stein said.


Willis Stein’s most recent acquisition took place last week when the firm announced a majority interest in CompuPay, an outsourced payroll processing company. The firm’s last deal in the consumer products and services was the purchase in June 2002 of Roundy’s, the seventh largest food wholesaler in the US.


Willis Stein & Partners manages approximately $3 billion in equity capital. The firm closed its third fund in June 2001 on $1.8 billion and also invests primarily in media, telecommunications, business services and healthcare companies.