November 2020 – November saw Significant Transactions in Louisiana M&A

February 23, 2021

CityBusiness December 15, 2020

By: G. F. Gay Le Breton and Ryan Gerton

In one of the biggest Louisiana transactions in 2020, Riverstone Holdings, LLC, a private equity firm focused on energy and power, has agreed to purchase New Orleans-based terminal operator International-Matex Tank Terminals (IMTT) for $2.685 billion.  IMTT stores and handles bulk liquid products for the energy, industrial, consumer and transport industries.

The seller, Macquarie Infrastructure Corporation, has held an interest in IMTT since 2006, when it purchased an initial 50% stake from the Coleman family, who founded the company. MIC bought the remaining 50% interest from the Coleman family in 2014 for $1.025 billion.

MITT operates 17 terminals in the United States plus two in Canada, for a total storage capacity of 48 million barrels. Its capacity is concentrated around economic hubs, with around a third of its capacity in the New York Harbor and another third in the Lower Mississippi River. The company enjoys a diversified customer base for its range of products, including large and growing positions in commodities other than petroleum products.

Riverstone aims to leverage IMTT’s key North American locations to bolster its presence in the refined petroleum products, chemicals, vegetable and tropical oils and renewable fuels industries, according to a senior adviser to Riverstone.

80-year old IMTT will retain its name and operate as a portfolio company of Riverstone following the completion of the transaction, which is expected in late 2020 or early 2021.

Also in November, alternative-sweetener specialist Swerve, LLC and its sister company, Swerve IP, LLC sold to publicly-traded Whole Earth Brands for $80 million.

This deal was an appetizing investment for Whole Earth considering Swerve is one of the fastest-growing sweetener brands in North America, with an estimated compound annual growth rate for revenue of 150% since 2016, according to Whole Earth. The sweetener is also estimated by Whole Earth to have an 8.2% share of North America’s natural sugar alternative market.

Whole Earth was formed earlier this year with a $440 million purchase of Merisant Company and Mafco Worldwide , a sugar-free, low-calorie sweetener maker and licorice manufacturer, respectively. The buyer aims to grow its share of the sweeteners market to 10% nationwide. The sale comes during a time when zero-sugar sweeteners continue to attract mainstream buyers, and consumers are baking and cooking at home more often due to the lockdowns.

The Swerve sweetener was developed two decades ago as a plant-based, keto-friendly sugar substitute for a line of health-focused drinks, but the company quickly realized that the product had potential as a standalone product because of its taste and its heat resistance, meaning it could be used in cooking. Swerve is unique in that it offers baking mixes for cookies, cakes, pancakes, waffles and brownies.

Metairie-based Swerve’s success was fostered by founder Andress Blackwell, who brought years of marketing and nutraceutical experience to the company. Blackwell became CEO in 2014, and, according to the company’s website, she “has worn every hat that [Swerve] has” as the company grew its product lines and expanded its footprint.  Andress will serve as a consultant following the transaction.

Finally, Painting with a Twist, LLC, a New Orleans arts and crafts entertainment firm, strengthened its supply chain when it scooped up 40-year industry veteran Chesapeake Ceramics last month from Duncan Enterprises for an undisclosed price.

Chesapeake is a global ceramics distributor for paint-your-own pottery studios, ceramics products dealerships, and school art programs, with locations in Baltimore, Maryland and Fresno, California and thousands of customers nationwide. Duncan also included in the deal one of its proprietary bisque lines, which will add 75 domestic and international distributors as customers, and Color Me Mine, a leader in paint-your-own pottery, along with its 140 studios worldwide.

This is the second transaction in two years for Painting with a Twist. The company purchased competitor Bottle & Bottega’s 20 studios in October 2018 to grow into new markets. The three entities will be folded into a new company, Twist Brands, LLC, which will boast over 400 locations, more than twice that of its nearest competitor, Pinot’s Palette.

Painting with a Twist began franchising in 2009.  Following the outbreak of COVID-19 earlier this year, Painting with a Twist has pivoted to offer virtual experiences, such as team building for businesses, and created a new product in at-home paint kits called Twist at Home.

G.F. Gay Le Breton is managing director for Chaffe & Associates Inc., responsible for the merger and acquisition activities of the firm. Ryan Gerton is financial analyst for the firm.

Investment banking services are provided by Chaffe Securities Inc., member FINRA/SIPC.