Dart Container Corp., based in Mason, Mich., and Solo Cup Co., headquartered in Lake Forest, Ill., announced that they have signed a definitive agreement under which Dart Container will acquire Solo in a transaction valued at approximately $1 billion. Both companies are in the consumer and foodservice disposable packaging business. The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close by the third quarter of this year.
“Our acquisition of Solo will allow us to provide even greater value to our customers in the future,” said Dart Container CEO Robert C. Dart in a prepared statement. “It will enable customers to purchase a wider range of products, made from a greater variety of materials with varying functional and environmental attributes – all from a single vendor. Both companies have an extensive history in the industry and will bring together valuable experience, traditions and complementary, high-quality products.”
“Solo has made great strides over the past several years in improving its operating efficiency, information systems and the caliber of the talent within the organization,” said Robert M. Korzenski, CEO, Solo Cup Co. “Dart’s leadership team has shown a high level of respect for what Solo has accomplished and I believe we are putting the company in the right hands to succeed and grow going forward.”
“Dart Container’s acquisition of Solo will accelerate the progress Solo has made to improve its levels of service and customer support,” said Dart. “We will use our expertise in running a successful, efficient, reliable and service-oriented company to create an organization that blends the best of both Dart and Solo for the benefit of our customers.”
According to Robert Dart, a top priority is bringing together the talents and skills of employees from both organizations to ensure that customers continue to receive exceptionally reliable service.
“These are two companies with strong histories of innovation and quality that have invested in the industry and in their customers,” said Robert L. Hulseman, chairman emeritus, Solo Cup Co. “I am very proud of this company’s contributions to the foodservice packaging industry and extremely pleased that many of Solo’s dedicated employees will have the opportunity to continue making a difference for our customers. This is a positive outcome for everyone involved.”
“We at Vestar have had a rewarding and productive partnership with the Hulseman family and Solo Cup’s management team during the past eight years,” said Kevin Mundt, managing director, Vestar Capital Partners. “Our combined efforts have enabled Solo Cup to become a leader in the foodservice packaging industry and have led to this powerful, strategic transaction with Dart Container, a very positive outcome for Solo, Dart, the Hulseman family, and Vestar.”
Regarding the integration process, Robert Dart pointed out that unlike publicly traded companies, where short-term results often are of paramount importance to investors and other stakeholders, privately held Dart Container is able to make decisions and investments that are long term in nature. He said the company has the time, and will take the time, to integrate Solo in a thoughtful, analytical manner to ensure lasting success.
Solo is majority-owned by the family of its founder, Leo J. Hulseman, and is also a portfolio company of Vestar Capital Partners IV, L.P. Dart Container is a privately owned company founded by William A. Dart. The integrated organization will be a private company known as Dart Container Corp. Dart expects to continue offering products under the Solo brand – including the iconic red Solo cup.
Dart Container Corp. and Solo Cup Co. will continue to operate independently until government approval is secured and the transaction closes.
Goldman, Sachs & Co. acted as lead financial advisor to Solo Cup Co. on the transaction. Evercore Partners also advised Solo Cup Co. on the transaction. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP acted as legal counsel to Solo. Ernst & Young Corporate Finance Inc. was lead financial advisor to Dart Container Corp. and Vinson & Elkins LLP served as Dart’s legal counsel on the transaction.