Fenway Partners Poised For 3.1x Return

Target: American Achievement Corp.

Price: Undisclosed

Sponsor: Herff Jones Inc.

Seller: Fenway Partners

Financial Adviser: Sponsor: The Blackstone Group; Seller: Lane, Berry & Co. International LLC, Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Legal Adviser: Sponsor: Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Howrey LLP; Seller: Ropes & Gray LLP

Exit Multiple: 3.1x

Fenway Partners stands to reap 3.1x its investment in American Achievement Corp., the Austin, Texas-based provider of class rings and yearbooks, a source with knowledge of the expected return told Buyouts.

The New York-based shop agreed May 20 to sell the company to Herff Jones, a manufacturer and publisher of educational products, for an undisclosed amount.

Fenway Partners poured $85 million of equity into the company in 2004 when it bought the business from LBO shop Castle Harlan for $419 million. Fenway Partners then recouped its investment with dividend recapitalizations of $89 million and $150 million in 2004 and 2006, respectively. Officials at the firm declined to comment.

Fenway Partners helped the company introduce new products, streamline manufacturing and cut costs by by $20 million, leading to a 40 percent increase in EBITDA during its hold period.

The sale of American Achievement marks the first deal for Fenway Partners since December 2007, when it invested $51 million in Consolidated Fastfrate Inc., a Canadian trucking company. The firm did three other deals in 2007, all acquisitions: Gemini Traffic Sales Inc., an Edison, N.J.-based trucking company that specializes in the transportation of time- and temperature-sensitive products; 1-800-Contacts, a Draper, Utah-based contact lens distributor; and East Coast Warehouse and Distribution Corp., an Elizabeth, N.J.-based company that provides temperature controlled warehousing and logistics services to the confectionary, cheese, grocery products, and pharmaceutical industries. Its last exit was its $730 million sale of Greatwide Logistics Services in December 2006 to Investcorp and Hicks Holdings LLC.

The mid-market shop typically invests in niche businesses in branded consumer products and transportation and logistics, seeking companies with enterprise values of $100 million to $600 million. Other companies it has owned include Simmons Co., a mattress maker, and Harry Winston, a luxury jewelry retailer.

Peter Lamm, managing partner, and Richard Dresdale, managing director, founded Fenway Partners in 1994. The firm has 17 investment professionals in offices in New York and Los Angeles.—B.V.