Thomas H. Lee in talks to buy Phillips Pet Food -sources

Wed Dec 4, 2013 7:00am EST

Dec 4 (Reuters) - Private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners LP is in advanced talks to acquire Phillips Pet Food & Supplies in a deal that could value the pet food distribution company at more than $500 million, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Negotiations with Thomas H. Lee may not lead to a deal and the family-owned company may still try to find another buyer or decide not to sell itself, the people said this week. They asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential.

Phillips did not reply to a request for comment while Thomas H. Lee declined to comment.

Easton, Pennsylvania-based Phillips had hired investment banking firm Harris Williams to seek buyers, people familiar with the matter said in September.

Founded in 1938, the company has expanded across the U.S. with 12 distribution centers. Its customers include pet stores, feed and farm stores, groomers, veterinarians and charities.

Total U.S. expenditure on pets has grown dramatically over the last few years to $55.3 billion in 2012, and is projected to reach $55.5 billion in 2013, according to the American Pet Products Association.

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