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Robert Hill
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jul. 31, 201412:00 PM EST

Carlyle Group to buy majority of Acosta in reported $4.8B deal

by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

The Carlyle Group, a well-known international buyout firm, is acquiring a majority interest in Jacksonville-based Acosta Sales & Marketing at a price pegged by financial news reports at about $4.8 billion.

Acosta, a sales and marketing company serving the supermarket industry, announced in a news release this week that Carlyle agreed to buy the ownership stake currently held by another buyout firm, Thomas H. Lee Partners L.P., but would not disclose terms of the deal.

However, both The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News, citing unnamed sources, said Carlyle is spending about $4.8 billion, including the assumption of debt, to gain control of Acosta.

“Carlyle has an established track record of investing in respected companies with a history of positive growth,” Acosta President and CEO Robert Hill said in the news release.

“Acosta is well positioned to meet the changing needs of consumer product manufacturers and retailers seeking more effective and efficient outsourced sales and marketing solutions,” Carlyle Managing Director Sandra Horbach said in Acosta’s release.

Carlyle, founded in Washington, D.C., in 1987, manages $203 billion in assets in a number of funds, with offices in six continents.

Acosta, founded in Jacksonville in 1927, is one of the largest companies in its field, with more than 37,000 employees in 110 locations in the U.S. and Canada.

Acosta said its current management will continue to run the company and operations will remain the same after the sale.

Members of Acosta’s management team will continue to have a

“significant” ownership stake and another investment firm that owns shares in the closely held company, GIC, will “reinvest” in the company, Acosta said.

Thomas H. Lee acquired its controlling interest in Acosta in 2011. According to Bloomberg, the investment firm will receive $1.7 billion from Carlyle, more than triple its $500 million investment three years ago.

“Acosta has benefited tremendously from its partnership with THL, and their financial and operational expertise was an important component of our growth and success,” Hill said.

The sale to Carlyle is expected to close in the third quarter this year.

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