Vita Liberata Sold To American Buyer

05 Jan 2018 | 10.57 am

Vita Liberata Sold To American Buyer

Broadlake exits Alyson Hogg's venture after five years

05 Jan 2018 | 10.57 am

Private equity firm Broadlake has sold its 58% stake in Vita Liberata, a Northern Ireland company that makes tanning products, to US pharma company Crown Laboratories for an undisclosed sum.

It is the second  exit for Broadlake in recent months, following the €68m sale of Merlyn Industries to Norcros in November 2017. Media reports speculated that Broadlake will gross around €25m from the sale of its shareholding in Vita Liberata. The business was founded by Alyson Hogg (pictured) in 2003 and began life as an anti-age skincare line, before shifting to making self-tanning products in 2007.

Headquartered near Belfast, Vita Liberata has benefited from  celebrity endorsements for its skincare and tanning products. Hollywood stars Emma Watson and Sofia Vergara are among those who use Vita Liberata products, which are sold across Europe and the US.

Broadlake took a stake in Vita Liberata in 2012. The private equity player is led by Pete Smyth, who is deploying the proceeds of the sale of Noonan Services in 2008. Smyth was chief executive of the contract cleaning and facilities management group, having been brought in to head up the business by his father-in-law, Noel Noonan.

Typically investing between €2m and €10m, Broadlake’s portfolio includes offices services company 2468 Group, healthcare recruitment and services company TTM, and Conveyortek, an engineering business based in Northern Ireland.

Hefty Losses

Despite Vita Liberata’s celebrity cachet, the business has booked yearly losses since 2012. Accounts for 2016 show that the business had accumulated losses of £3.8m, with a net deficit in shareholders’ funds of £1.7m.

“We backed an ambitious team in 2012 and over the last five years have supported them during a period of phenomenal growth,” said Smyth. “Over this time the company has successfully developed its product ranges, brands, channels and international reach.”

Crown Laboratories is a specialty pharmaceutical company focused in dermatology. Its backers include New York private investment firm Hildred Capital Partners. Alyson Hogg will stay on as president of consumer brands for Crown Laboratories.

Originally from Derry, Hogg was 39 when she founded Vita Liberata. The EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist previously worked as a model, a TV presenter and a guest house manager.

“Crown and Hildred have a genuine understanding of the suncare market and a very impressive vision for the Vita Liberata brand,” said Hogg. “We are thrilled to partner with them to leverage Crown’s strong positioning within the dermatology space and advance our mission of making self-tanning a viable alternative to sun exposure for all.”

Jeff Bedard, president and CEO of Crown Laboratories, said that the Vita Liberata product line would be a strong complement to his firm’s Blue Lizard sunscreen brand, as well as building on its products strategy in the dermatology space. “Alyson and her entire team have done a remarkable job disrupting the self-tanning space, and we look forward to welcoming them to the Crown family,” he added.

Los Angeles and New York-based investment bank The Sage Group LLC advised Broadlake and Vita Liberata on the deal, with legal counsel coming from Tughans. EY provided due diligence and tax advice.

Crown Laboratories was advised by Centerview Partners, with legals provided by Lowenstein Sandler and A&L Goodbody in Dublin.

 

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