Providence Firm With Aging Portfolio Sniffs Out An Exit: Source


Target: Agilex Flavors & Fragrances

Sponsor: Nautic Partners LLC

Nautic Partners LLC is shopping Agilex Flavors & Fragrances, a maker of fragrances used in cosmetic, household and specialty products, Buyouts has learned from a source who has reviewed a book marketing the sale.

It shouldn’t be a shocker that Nautic is looking to unload the company, considering that it has been in the firm’s portfolio since 2004, when, according to Capital IQ, Nautic bought it for $97 million from JZ Equity Partners plc and The Jordan Company. Don’t be surprised to see more exits from Nautic, whose portfolio is filled with aging investments; more on that below.

The Upper Saddle River, N.J.-based company generated about $15 million in EBITDA and $55 million in sales, according to the source, who viewed the marketing materials toward the end of last year. In November 2010, Agilex divested a flavor division, a move it says put it into “prime position to focus on its substantial fragrance capabilities,” according to its Web site.

Fidus Partners, a financial advisory shop with offices in Charlotte, N.C., and New York, is running the process, according to the source.

Providence, R.I.-based Nautic also could use another exit because it is likely to return to the fundraising market in the near future, another source, who works in fundraising, told Buyouts. The firm raised $800 million for its sixth and most recent fund in 2008 after originally targeting $1.2 billion, with investors including the Arizona State Retirement System.

Indeed, Nautic has been an active seller over the last year, exiting at least three companies since last May, according to Capital IQ. Its most recent came on Feb. 21, when it sold Sync Solutions Inc., a marketing company it had owned since 2005, to Archway Marketing Services Inc.

Nautic has several other companies that could be ripe for sale given how long the firm has been holding them. These include Design/Craft Fabric Holdings LLC, a fabric company it first bought for $10 million way back in 1999, when Nautic was known as Fleet Equity Partners; and Clarkston Consulting, a technology consulting firm in which Nautic first invested in 2000.

Of the 25 companies Nautic lists as active on its Web site, 15, or 60 percent, have been in the portfolio since 2007 or earlier; and eight, or 32 percent, have been in the portfolio since 2005 or earlier, including three investments from the late 1990s.

Tom Lamb, Agilex’s CEO; Nautic Managing Director Bernie Buonanno; and executives at Fidus did not reply to calls seeking comment.