Gryphon buying Lawler Foods amid Fund IV capital-raise

  • Gryphon taps capital from fourth buyout fund for cheesecake maker
  • Fourth acquisition this year by firm
  • Gryphon bought another dessert company last year


Antitrust regulators cleared the acquisition of bakery company Lawler Foods Inc by Gryphon Investors as the San Francisco private equity firm tapped capital from its fourth buyout fund while on the fundraising trail.

The FTC approved the deal for Lawler, the Humble, Texas, maker of cheesecakes, cakes and pies for food-service and retail customers. It also operates under the names Lawler Foods Ltd and Lawler’s Desserts.

And it’s the second food business Gryphon has acquired in less than a year.

In November, Gryphon acquired The Original Cookie Cakerie, a maker of frozen desserts for retail and food service. Terms weren’t disclosed. Its other food investments have included Flagstone FoodsTrusthouse Services Group and Eight O’Clock Coffee.

Founded in 1976, Lawler Foods employs 201 to 500 people, according to the company’s LinkedIn page.

In April, Lawler Foods agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit, brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and alleging discrimination based on race and national origin, a news release said. In the 2014 lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that Lawler failed to hire black and other non-Hispanic applicants for jobs, according to a statement.

Lawler Foods marks the fifth acquisition this year for Gryphon after Aon Fire Protection Engineering Corp, Stevenson & Associates, Cora Health Systems and the healthcare unit of Kurt Salmon US Inc.

The Salmon deal is an add-on for Gryphon’s ECG Management Consultants platform; and Stevenson was added on to its Jensen Hughes platform, acquired in December. In April, Gryphon exited SynteractHCR in a sale to Amulet Capital Partners for an undisclosed sum.

In 2014, Gryphon Investors exited Flagstone with a return of nearly 4x its invested capital, Buyouts reported. The maker of healthy snacks drew a price of as much as $890 million in a sale to TreeHouse Foods. Gryphon invested in Flagstone Foods in 2011 from Gryphon Investors III LP.

Gryphon Investors is targeting $600 million for Gryphon Partners IV, the entity listed as the buyer of Lawler, according to filings.

Gryphon is working with Axonia Partners, Credit Suisse, Konomi Inc and Greenstone Group on the fundraising, according to a filing.

The firm raised $515 million in 2006 for its third fund, then followed it up in 2013 with the unusual move to launch fund 3.5, which drew in $365 million, 46 percent ahead of its original target of $250 million.

A spokeswoman for Gryphon declined to comment on Lawler Foods and on the firm’s fundraising efforts. A Lawler executive did not return a voicemail.

Action Item: Gryphon Investors:

Photo courtesy of ©iStock/pjohnson1

Update: This story has been updated to reflect the deal for the healthcare unit of Kurt Salmon US Inc.