Ex-Jarden Chiefs Are Said to Seek $750 Million for Deal Vehicle

  • Lillie, Franklin, Ashken could raise as much as $1.25 billion
  • Franklin helped build Platform Specialty Products, Nomad Foods

The former Jarden Corp. executives who sold the retailer for about $15 billion last year are seeking $750 million for a new acquisition vehicle, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Jim Lillie, Martin E. Franklin and Ian Ashken could raise as much as $1.25 billion for the special purpose acquisition company, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. The SPAC, called J2 in a nod to Jarden, has already lined up $450 million in commitments, including from the founders and the hedge fund Viking Global Investors, the person said. The team is set to raise more in an initial public offering.

SPACs raise money in an IPO to buy a company by a certain deadline. While J2 hasn’t identified a specific target, a consumer business may be a natural fit given the founders’ experience. It will have two years after the IPO to do a deal, the person said.

A representative of the executives declined to comment.

The venture is the latest in a string of businesses built up by Franklin, a serial dealmaker who, in addition to Jarden, grew specialty-chemicals company Platform Specialty Products Corp., frozen-foods conglomerate Nomad Foods Ltd. and charcoal and grilling company Royal Oak Enterprises LLC.

Franklin also has a longstanding relationship with Pershing Square Capital Management’s Bill Ackman, who has invested alongside him in vehicles including one that scored them big profits on an investment in Burger King Worldwide Inc.

SPACs, also referred to as blank-check companies, have been gaining in popularity as dealmakers tap public markets for capital. Firms that typically raise institutional money in a commingled pool to pursue as many as 30 deals, such as TPG, have launched SPACs in recent years to supplement their main funds, as have prominent dealmakers such as ex-Blackstone Group LP executive Chinh Chu and insurance veteran William Foley.

Investors in J2 will be looking for the executives to reproduce their Jarden magic, where they built a plastics maker into a consumer-products company through takeovers of brands including K2 and Yankee Candle. Jarden’s stock price grew by more than 5,000 percent on a split-adjusted basis under the executives’ watch from 2001 to 2016.

— With assistance by Alex Barinka

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