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SlimFast Owner Explores Sale of Weight-Loss Brand

  • Majority backer Kainos Capital hires Harris Williams for sale
  • Ex-owner Unilever wrote off losses as SlimFast sales fell

SlimFast Foods Co.’s owner is considering a sale of the weight-loss business, almost four years after the private equity firm bought it from Unilever Plc, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Dallas-based Kainos Capital is working with investment bank Harris Williams to run an auction process for SlimFast, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. A sale is expected to value the company at about $400 million and is attracting interest from other buyout firms, the people said.

Reflecting a decline in SlimFast’s popularity, that valuation would be only 17 percent of the $2.4 billion that Unilever paid for SlimFast in 2000. Kainos agreed to buy a majority stake from the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate in 2014 for an undisclosed amount.

A spokesman for Kainos declined to comment. Representatives for SlimFast, based in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and for Harris Williams didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Under Kainos’s ownership, the company has expanded its product range, most recently adding caffeinated protein drink SlimFast Advanced Energy, according to its website.

SlimFast, whose advertisements have featured television celebrity Kathie Lee Gifford and former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, was founded by Thompson Medical Co. in 1977.

After being bought by Unilever, SlimFast sales suffered as dieters began worrying more about sugar and sought to restrict carbohydrates. In 2005, Unilever added a 200 million euro ($245 million) writedown to an earlier 650 million euro charge after sales fell 20 percent the previous year.

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