Create a free account to continue

Hicks Buying Plastic Container Maker

Texas Rangers owner Thomas O. Hicks has agreed to buy Graham Packaging Holdings and take the plastic juice and beer bottle maker public for $700 million.

DALLAS (AP) -- An investment fund led by Texas Rangers owner Thomas O. Hicks has agreed to buy Graham Packaging Holdings Co. and take the maker of plastic juice and beer bottles public for $700 million plus the assumption of $2.29 billion in debt and other costs.

The Hicks fund said Monday it expected a final deal in the next few days.

Dallas-based Hicks Acquisition Company I Inc. said it believed the deal was the largest ever between a special purpose acquisition company and an industrial company.

The container company will be renamed Graham Packaging Co. and apply for listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

Current Graham owners, led by buyout firm The Blackstone Group, will remain the largest single shareholder, with about 34 percent of the new company, Hicks said.

The companies said the transaction is expected to close later this year if shareholders of the Hicks fund approve it.

Hicks valued the transaction at $3.2 billion, which included the stock price of $700 million, the assumption of net debt of $2.29 billion, fees and expenses of $55 million, and debt paydown of $156 million.

The company is based in York, Pa., and lost $206 million on sales of $2.49 billion last year. Sales fell 1.1 percent from 2006, which Graham blamed on price cuts due to increased competition and higher costs for raw materials.

Graham went through a management shake-up in December 2006. Chairman and Chief Executive Warren Knowlton said after going public the company will pay down debt and increase earnings growth.

The company makes molded, rigid plastic containers for juice, beer, food, liquid laundry detergent and motor oil at 83 plants in North America, Europe and South America for customers including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch.

Shares of Hicks Acquisition rose 9 cents, to $9.38, and Blackstone shares fell 57 cents, or 3 percent, to $18.16.

More in Supply Chain