TowerBrook announces strategic investment in KeHE

May 17, 2019

KeHE Distributors (KeHE) announced today that it has completed a comprehensive review to find a strategic capital partner for growth, replacing a longtime minority shareholder. TowerBrook Capital Partners L.P. (TowerBrook), an international investment management firm, has become a shareholder in KeHE and has committed additional capital for future growth.

“We have been very deliberate in selecting a partner that believes in our mission and values as well as our strategic vision to be the next generation distributor in specialty, natural & organic and fresh foods.” said Brandon Barnholt, KeHE’s President and CEO. “This arrangement allows KeHE to maintain our majority employee stock ownership (ESOP) ownership structure, while securing the infusion of capital we need to power our growth initiatives.”

KeHE’s expertise in bringing new and emerging brands to market, a national distribution network in the U.S. and Canada, and the unique ability to help brands and retailers grow, positions KeHE to thrive in the emerging environment.

“KeHE has significant scale, a differentiated supply chain and an experienced leadership team with both a strong track record and a compelling vision for the future of food distribution,” said Michael Recht, Managing Director at TowerBrook. “We are pleased to partner with KeHE to help drive continued momentum and growth in the business.”

TowerBrook recently became the first mainstream private equity firm to earn its B Corporation certification. KeHE became the first food distributor to earn the B Corporation certification credential in 2016 and remains one of the largest organizations to hold this designation.

“We see many exciting opportunities in this large and growing sector,” added Andrew Rolfe, Managing Director at TowerBrook. “Responsible investing is also an integral part of how we work. We are thrilled to partner with KeHE, as they share our commitment to values such as diversity, inclusion, service, transparency and sustainability.”

BMO Capital Markets acted as exclusive financial advisor to KeHE and Winston & Strawn, LLP provided legal guidance to KeHE. Kirkland & Ellis, LLP provided legal counsel to TowerBrook.