Banking & Finance

SPAC Goes Operational: Hicks Acquisition Becoming Graham Packaging (TOH, BX)

Hicks Acquisition Company I, Inc. (AMEX: TOH) has reached an agreement in principle to go from SPAC to operational.  The deal and terms are subject to execution of a definitive agreement, although the company noted that this is expected to be finalized in the next few days.  Hicks Acquisition will merge with Graham Packaging Holdings Co. through a transaction with Hicks Acquisition.  Interestingly enough, this will be in partnership with The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE: BX) and the Graham Group.

Hicks Acquisition is a Dallas-based special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, that was founded and headed by Thomas O. Hicks.  This is also going to be one of the larger SPAC transactions that has ever been announced.  With the debt and financing from partners, this SPAC merger will be valued at approximately $3.2 Billion.  This may even be a record for a SPAC, or at least for the sector it is entering.

After the transaction, the combined enterprise will be renamed Graham Packaging Company and will list on the New York Stock Exchange.

Blackstone has also agreed that it will maintain the largest ownership stake for at least two years as it continues to play an important role in guiding the company strategically and operationally.

Graham Packaging was founded in 1972 and is based in York, PA.  Its 2007 sales are represented as roughly $2.5 Billion.  Graham Packaging is a market leader in custom plastic containers, producing more than 20 billion container units annually at 83 manufacturing plants in North America, Europe and South America. It calls itself the leading supplier of plastic containers for hot-fill juice and juice drinks, sports drinks, drinkable yogurt and smoothies, nutritional supplements, wide-mouth food, condiments, beer, liquid laundry detergent and motor oil.  Certain key customer names are Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Danone, Ocean Spray, Heinz, Abbott, Nestle, Anheuser-Busch,and many more.

Hicks Acquisition I has been public since its IPO in October 2007.

Jon C. Ogg
June 30, 2008