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UPDATE 2-Nature's Gate shampoo, soap maker seeks bankruptcy
* Natural Products Group files prepackaged bankruptcy
* Expects to emerge from bankruptcy in 60 days or less
* Assets of $286 million, liabilities of $804 million (Adds details about new ownership, company history)
By Tom Hals
WILMINGTON, Del., Jan 27 (Reuters) - Natural Products Group, owner of the Nature's Gate line of organic shampoos and soap, filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday with the support of its lenders and expects to exit Chapter 11 in two months.
Lenders holding 90 percent of the bank loans voted in favor of the restructuring, which will cut the company's outstanding debt by 80 percent, the company said in a statement.
The company plans to borrow up to $20 million to fund operations during its bankruptcy, known as a debtor-in-possession loan.
Lenders owed approximately $530 million will end up owning 85 percent of the reorganized company's equity under the restructuring plan. They will also have a new term loan worth $125 million.
Lenders owed about $216 million under a separate loan will be allocated warrants that will allow them to purchase up to 5 percent of the equity in the reorganized company.
Harvest Partners LP, a New York private equity firm, owns the prebankruptcy equity in Natural Products Group and it will be wiped out.
Harvest formed Natural Products Group in 2004 to buy Arbonne International LLC, a direct marketer of personal care products, and Levlad Inc, which owns the Nature's Gate line.
Harvest, with other investors, provided $93 million of equity for the acquisitions.
Natural Products Group, based in Irvine, California, said in court documents that it grew rapidly in 2005 and 2006 as Arbonne added a large number of direct marketing contractors, providing an unsustainable boost to revenue.
The company's net sales began to fall in 2007-2009 due to a loss of direct marketers and downturn in the economy.
While the bankruptcy wipes out the initial investors, Natural Products Group paid them $200 million in dividends in 2005, according to a company statement dated Jan. 4, 2006.
Natural Products Group's annual revenue consists of $378 million from Arbonne and $73 million from the Levlad businesses.
Natural Products Group employs 867 people worldwide, according to court documents.
Arbonne has a direct sales network of 750,000 independent contractors and the company said they would receive their pay and compensation as usual during the bankruptcy.
The case is In re Natural Products Group LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 10-10239. (Reporting by Tom Hals; Additional reporting by Santosh Nadgir in Bangalore)
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