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Jarden to Buy Yearbook Maker Jostens for About $1.5 Billion

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  • Jostens, founded in 1897, generates $740 million in sales
  • Jarden will sell other brands through Jostens' 40,000 schools

Jarden Corp., a sprawling consumer-brands company that sells everything from Coleman grills to Rawlings baseball mitts, is adding yearbooks and class rings to its lineup.

The company agreed to pay about $1.5 billion for Visant Holding Corp., which owns the school-memorabilia maker Jostens, from private-equity firms KKR & Co. and APriori Capital Partners. The deal amount, which includes debt, is about 7.5 times Visant’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, Jarden said in a statement Wednesday.

Jostens, which dates to 1897, generates about $740 million in annual sales through yearbook printing, championship rings, varsity jackets, graduation caps and gowns, and other items. The business will become part of Jarden’s outdoor solutions division and should help boost adjusted earnings per share in 2016, according to the statement. The transaction is slated to close in the fourth quarter.

The idea is to pair Jostens and a customer base that includes 40,000 U.S. schools with Jarden’s related businesses, such as Rawlings sports equipment and uniforms and its Yankee Candle school-fundraising program, Chief Executive Officer Jim Lillie said in an interview. It will also invest in marketing and product development to spur growth at a company on track to increase sales by about 2 percent this year, he said.

Consumer Brand

“We’ll turn it into a true consumer-product business, as opposed to it historically being run like a printing asset,” Lillie said. “Printing assets tend to take orders as opposed to going out and marketing and creating new products.”

Jarden’s shares climbed 0.8 percent to $51.08 at the close on Wednesday in New York. They have risen 6.7 percent this year.

Jostens Inc. was previously acquired in 2003 by Credit Suisse First Boston’s private-equity unit for about $500 million.

“Jostens is a niche leader -- they dominate the school business and class-ring business,” said Charles Strauzer, a senior managing director at CJS Securities Inc. who has advised Jarden and owns some of the shares. “Their closest competitor is probably Balfour, but Jostens is the obvious top choice in the business.”

Private-Equity Approach

Jarden, which has been described as a publicly traded private-equity firm, typically acquires brands in stable, niche categories. In July, it agreed to pay $1.35 billion for Waddington Group Inc., which makes disposable cutlery. Jarden brands usually retain much of their autonomy, including headquarters, research and sales teams, helping them stay entrepreneurial.

The company’s strategy was conceived by serial dealmaker Martin E. Franklin. In 2000, he and long-time partner Ian Ashken, tried and failed to acquire Alltrista Corp., a troubled manufacturer of plastics. After pushing for seats on the board, Franklin was named CEO and Ashken took role of the chief financial officer. That company became Jarden, where Franklin now serves as executive chairman.

With Jostens, Jarden will focus on accelerating growth and expanding market share in the short term, with possible acquisitions in the future, Franklin said in an interview.

Currency Impact

Jarden also likes that Jostens generates the overwhelming majority of its sales in the U.S., which makes it mostly immune to the impact of the strong dollar, Lillie said. The strength of the dollar reduces the value of revenue booked overseas.

Jarden said it has lined up financing to pay for the acquisition and may choose to fund a portion of the deal with excess cash on hand, bonds, bank debt or stock. Any cost savings generated by merging Jostens with Jarden’s operations will probably be reinvested into product innovation.

Barclays Plc and Morgan Stanley advised Boca Raton, Florida-based Jarden on the deal, while Kane Kessler served as legal counsel. Jefferies LLC and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett advised Visant.

"This deal is a credit positive for Jarden," said Kevin Cassidy, an analyst at Moody’s Investors Service. "You could have a temporary increase in leverage. But it will come down on earnings growth and debt paydown from free cash flow."