Recent News and Announcements from Centre Partners
New York, NY, April 11, 2005 Centre Partners, a leading middle market private equity firm with offices in New York and Los Angeles, today announced that it has exited its remaining equity stake in Connors Bros. Income Fund (TSX: CBF.UN), concluding the firms investment in Bumble Bee Seafoods, L.P. The sale of Centre Partners remaining equity stake was executed through a block trade of Connors units.
Centre Partners originally acquired Bumble Bee from ConAgra Foods, Inc., in May 2003 through a partnership with members of Bumble Bees senior management team. In April 2004, Centre Partners combined the operations of Bumble Bee with those of Connors, creating the largest branded seafood company in North America and Canadas largest consumer products income fund.
Centre Partners Managing Director Scott Perekslis said, We are pleased with the successful realization of our investment and applaud the efforts of an extremely talented management team led by President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher Lischewski, Chief Operating Officer Douglas Hines, and Executive Vice President of Corporate Development John Stiker, who have each proven to be an exceptional manager and invaluable partner to Centre.
Following the combination with Connors Bros., Bumble Bees management team swiftly integrated the two businesses generating substantial cost savings that allowed Connors to raise its annual dividend from CAD$1.35 to CAD$1.40 only two months after the initial transaction. As a result of the combined companys strong performance, Centre Partners was able to complete a secondary offering of Connors units in September 2004 through which we sold approximately half of our retained equity stake at that time, Perekslis said.
In January 2005, Connors completed the acquisitions of Castleberry/Snows Brands, Inc., which holds leading positions in canned clams, clam juice, chili, beef stew, and clam chowder, and Sara Lees shelf-stable meats business, including canned and pouched chicken, beef and pork products sold under the Bryan ® and Sweet Sue ® brands. In connection with these acquisitions, Connors again raised its annual dividend from CAD$1.40 to CAD$1.50.
As a result of strong financial performance, managements ability to execute and quickly integrate accretive acquisitions, and a track record of steadily increasing annual dividends, Connors has become one of the preeminent income funds in Canada, said Centre Partners Managing Partner Bruce Pollack. We are very pleased with the outcome of our investment in Bumble Bee and greatly appreciate the tremendous efforts of management over the last two years. We remain committed to helping management in any way we can going forward. They have truly become part of the Centre family and we wish them much continued success.
About Centre Partners
Centre Partners, founded in 1986, with offices in New York City and Los Angeles, is a leading private equity firm focused on making investments in middle market companies alongside management teams who have a meaningful economic stakes in the future success of their businesses. Centre Partners and its affiliates have invested over $3 billion of equity capital in more than 80 businesses. Centre Partners is currently investing through its fourth fund, which has committed capital of approximately $780 million. Additional information about Centre Partners is available at www.centrepartners.com.