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Fenway Partners Agrees to Sell 1-800 Contacts to WellPoint

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It was revealed on Monday that Fenway Partners has made a deal to sell 1-800 Contacts to WellPoint (NYSE: WLP).

1-800 Contacts is a retailer of contact lenses and eyewear, and Peter Lamm, co-founder and managing partner of Fenway, said that he is very pleased with the outcome of its investment in 1-800 Contacts. Fenway has a long track record of successfully investing in and building branded consumer products companies, including Easton-Bell Sports and American Achievement as well as a prior successful investment in the luxury brand, Harry Winston.

"Fenway's experience with 1-800 CONTACTS is an instructive example of private equity partnering with management to create a better business -- growing revenues, increasing domestic employment and payrolls, improving the customer value proposition and making significant investments in the future. We are delighted to have made such a positive impact on this company and that our Fenway Partners Fund investors will realize an attractive rate of return and an impressive multiple of capital."

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2012, and Timothy Mayhew, Managing Director of Fenway Consulting Partners and Chairman of 1-800 Contacts, said that they have enjoyed partnering with Jonathan Coon, Brian Bethers and the talented 1-800 Contacts team, and are proud of the role it has played in this outstanding company's growth and development over the last five years.

"Since Fenway acquired the company in 2007, 1-800 Contacts has experienced strong growth and achieved exceptional financial and operational performance. Recent initiatives such as launching a mobile app and entering the eyewear market with Glasses.com have ensured that 1-800 Contacts remains at the forefront of innovation. With the opportunities presented by its new partnership with WellPoint, we believe that 1-800 Contacts is poised to continue to grow and further strengthen its industry-leading franchise."

Sonenshine Partners acted as exclusive financial advisor and Ropes & Gray served as legal advisor for the transaction.

Follow me @BCallwood.

Posted-In: Fenway PartnersNews M&A Best of Benzinga

 

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