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Asset firm The Carlyle Group is nearing a deal to purchase Acosta Sales & Marketing, in a transaction valued at $5 billion, according to reports.
The Washington, D.C.-based firm is in final talks with Thomas H. Lee Partners LP (THL), equity owner of Acosta, to purchase a full ownership stake. Acosta's senior management team will continue to lead the company upon its acquisition.
“Acosta has benefited tremendously from its partnership with THL, and their financial and operational expertise was an important component of our growth and success,” said Robert Hill, president/CEO of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Acosta. “Carlyle has an established track record of investing in respected companies with a history of positive growth. Together, we are excited to lead Acosta into a new chapter with a focus on expanding services to meet a broader set of client and retailer needs.”
According to a Reuters report, private equity firms are increasingly targeting companies that "are expected to benefit from a recovery in consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity." The report cited equity firms Leonard Green & Partners LP and CVC Capital Partners, who last month bought competing firm Advantage Sales & Marketing, based in Irvine, Calif., for $4 billion.
This is a stunning turn-of-events given that Acosta changed the food broker model by driving mass consolidation throughout the '90s and '00s.
Started as a small firm in Jacksonville, Fla., in the '70s, and subsequently buying up small firms throughout the country, Acosta has since grown to more than 37,000 associates in 110 locations throughout the United States and Canada.