Deal of the Year

Read the brief descriptions of the following deals. Then let us know which one you think deserves the Buyouts Deal of the Year award! As with most Democratic elections, vote only once.

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1. Irving Place Capital purchased Vitamin Shoppe in 2002 for $305 million ($121 million equity) when the retailer of vitamins and other nutritional products had 128 stores. The company scored 15 consecutive quarters of positive same-store sales leading up to its IPO in October 2009 and now has over 480 stores. To date Irving Place has realized $348 million in proceeds; between that and unrealized gains the firm has multiplied its original investment by 3.6x.

2. Alpine Equity Management acquired Austria-based Amann Dental in 2003 and the following year combined it with Germany-based Girrbach Dental to create a supplier and distributor of dental equipment. During the holding period, the enterprise value of the company rose from 3.3 million EUR to 85 million EUR as the company expanded across all European markets via direct sales and specialized distributors. Through an exit last year Alpine Equity multiplied its equity investment by 19x, and chalked up an IRR of 51 percent.

3. Arbor Investments acquired Great Kitchens, maker of pizzas and sandwiches sold in grocery stores, for $17.2 million, or 5x TTM EBITDA in October 2004. Arbor installed a new president, and opened up a new factory and during its ownership the company expanded sales to 9 of the largest 16 retailers in North America. Revenue at the company grew from $58 million when acquired to $262 million at the time of exit last year, while EBITDA grew from $3.4 million to $27.2 million. The deal generated a 17x multiple of equity and a 69 percent IRR for Arbor.

4. North Castle Partners in 2007 paid $100 million to acquire a majority stake in Atkins Nutritional Holdings, the low-carb diet company that had recently emerged from Chapter 11. Thanks to an overhauled strategy, and new management team, revenue doubled and earnings tripled over the three-year holding period. North Castle made 5x its equity investment last year on the sale of the company to Roark Capital Group.

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