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Caribou Coffee agrees to $340 million acquisition

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By Paul Walsh and Mike Hughlett
Star Tribune
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota-based Caribou Coffee Co. Inc., the nation's No. 2 coffeehouse chain, is being bought for $340 million, the company and its German buyer announced Monday.
Specifically, the deal has Caribou of Brooklyn Center, Minn., being purchased for $16 a share, representing a premium of about 30 percent over the closing stock price on Friday. The transaction is valued at $340 million and has been unanimously approved by Caribou's independent directors.
As of Sept. 30, Caribou has 610 coffeehouses in 22 states, the District of Columbia and 10 international markets. Only Starbucks is larger in the United States.
The buyer is an affiliate of the Joh. A. Benckiser Group, or JAB, a privately held German holding company with investments in many retail brands.
At the close of the transaction, Caribou said, it will continue to operate as an independent company with its own brand, management team and growth strategy. Its headquarters will remain in Minnesota.
"Caribou has a fantastic brand and unique culture, and fits perfectly with JAB's investment philosophy of investing in premium and unique brands in attractive growth categories like coffee," Bart Becht, JAB's chairman, said in a statement accompanying the announcement. "JAB is committed to investing in Caribou as a standalone business out of Minneapolis to ensure the company continues its current highly successful track record."
Caribou was founded in 1992, and while it has a foothold in Chicago and several other U.S. markets, its retail coffee house business is still concentrated in Minnesota.
Over the years, Caribou has also developed a commercial coffee business. More than 20 percent of sales come from Caribou-branded coffee sold through grocery stores and food service channels, as wells as through single servings for Keurig coffee machines.
"We anticipate the next chapter in Caribou's journey will be filled with tremendous opportunities to grow this great brand, with new ownership," said Michael Tattersfield, Caribou's president and CEO.
Caribou's stock had traded as high as $18 this spring, but then fell back after investor expectations for the single-serve coffee market cooled. Caribou went public in September 2005, at $14 per share. But the stock steadily fell in the next several years, dropping below $1.50 per share in 2008.
Joh. A. Benckiser and affiliated companies is focused on long term investments in companies with premium brands in consumer goods. JAB's portfolio includes a majority stake in Peet's Coffee & Tea Inc., which it acquired in July for $941 million.
Peet's has about 200 coffee houses, mostly in the western U.S., and also has a substantial business in grocery stores and other commercial channels.
Benckiser also has a 15 percent stake in D.E Master Blenders 1753 N.V., which comprises the former international coffee and tea holdings of Sara Lee Corp.
JAB also has a majority stake in cosmetics and fragrance company Coty Inc., a minority stake in Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC, a global leader in health, hygiene and home products. JAB also owns Labelux, a luxury leather goods company with brands such as Jimmy Choo, Bally and Belstaff.
BDT Capital Partners, a Chicago-based merchant bank, is a minority investor with JAB in Caribou. BDT & Co. also served as a financial adviser on the deal.



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