For­mer Natty Boh owner takes stake in Utz

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND NATION - By Natalie Sher­man nsh­er­man@balt­sun.com

Nev­er­mind those wed­ding bells; in real­ity, it looks like Mr. Boh and his peren­nial part­ner, the Utz girl, are more like friends of friends.

Their com­mon bond is Metropou­los & Co., a fam­ily-owned in­vest­ment firm, which sold Na­tional Bo­hemian two years ago and on Wed­nes­day an­nounced a stake in Utz Qual­ity Foods. Terms of the deal were not dis­closed, but the Wall Street Jour­nal re­ported the in­vest­ment was more than $146 mil­lion.

Metropou­los, like Bal­ti­more, has a taste for clas­sic food brands. Its port­fo­lio has in­cluded Aunt Jemima, Bum­ble Bee Foods, Chef Bo­yardee, Ghi­rardelli Cho­co­late, Vla­sic and Host­ess Brands, which this sum­mer said it would go pub­lic.

It sold Pabst Brew­ing Co., which owns the Na­tional Bohne­mian brand, in 2014 to TSG Con­sumer Part­ners, a San Fran­cisco pri­vate equity firm, for $750 mil­lion.

The in­vest­ment from Metropou­los was used to finance Utz’s ac­qui­si­tion of Alabama-based Golden En­ter­prises, which owns the Golden Flake brand of chips and pork rinds. Utz fi­nal­ized that deal on Oct. 3.

The Rice fam­ily will re­tain its ma­jor­ity own­er­ship of the Hanover, Pa.-based salty snack com­pany.

De­spite its Key­stone State ad­dress, the 95-year-old Utz busi­ness is a chip off the Bal­ti­more block. Founders Bill and Salie Utz headed to the city’s Lex­ing­ton and Cross Street mar­kets to sell their wares when the com­pany be­gan and a spokes­woman for the firm said it’s the lead­ing chip brand in the Bal­ti­more mar­ket.

The Golden En­ter­prises ac­qui­si­tion is the lat­est in a string of deals for Utz, which ex­pects to gen­er­ate $800 mil­lion in sales next year.

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