CamelBak acquired for $257 million

PETALUMA -- CamelBak Products, LLC, best known for its line of backpack canteens, was acquired by a Connecticut-based publicly traded investment group for $257.5 million.

Compass Diversified Holdings (NYSE: CODI) of Westport, Conn., acquired 89.9 percent of the Petaluma company on Aug. 24. Some CamelBak management and one of Compass' largest lenders also acquired stakes. The deal included $145.2 million in loans to CamelBak.

Sally McCoy will remain chief executive officer of CamelBak.

"We are eager to leverage the unique strengths of CODI's financing structure and history of working with established middle-market companies to build upon our track record of success in providing advanced hydration solutions for customers on a worldwide basis," she said in the announcement this morning.

Compass CEO Alan Offenberg said the acquisition of CamelBak would provide his shareholders 15 to 20 cents per share of added cash-flow per year.

"This company possesses the critical characteristics that we seek in all of our subsidiaries, including market leadership, strong operating history and cash flow levels, proven management and compelling growth opportunities," he said. "CamelBak is an industry pioneer with strong brand recognition as the premier innovator of personal hydration products, offering superior performance as well as important health and environmental benefits. We expect to capitalize on the company's strong market position, as well as favorable macro trends, including the growing demand for improved everyday hydration. We believe CamelBak will continue to evolve its leading product and innovation platform and strengthen its relationships with top retailers and the military, thereby increasing consumer penetration levels globally. We look forward to working with CamelBak to continue to accelerate their growth."

CamelBak started in 1989 and had revenues of $122 million last year from a line of personal hydration products that now includes bottles as well as the backpacks. It was acquired by the Bowes family in 1995 for $4 million. Bear Stearns purchased the company in 2003 for $210 million.

Compass' other eight portfolio companies are Advanced Circuits, American Furniture Manufacturing, Anodyne Medical Device, ERGObaby, HALO Branded Solutions, Liberty Safe and Staffmark.

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