Oct 30 National Vision Inc is exploring a sale
that could value the fourth largest retailer of eyeglasses and
contact lenses in the United States at around $1 billion, three
people familiar with the matter said this week.
The Lawrenceville, Georgia-based company, which is owned by
private equity firm Berkshire Partners LLC, is working with
Barclays Plc on the sale process, the people said.
National Vision's earnings before interest, tax,
depreciation and amortization are seen at between $90 million
and $100 million, two of the people added.
The sources asked not to be identified because the sale
process is not public. Berkshire Partners and Barclays declined
to comment. National Vision did not respond to a request for
National Vision, which focuses on low cost glasses and
contacts, operates over 700 retail locations in 43 states under
chains that include America's Best Contacts & Eyeglasses and
Eyeglass World. It is the fourth biggest player in the U.S.
optical market behind Luxottica Group Spa, Wal-Mart
Stores Inc and Visionworks of America Inc.
Last year National Vision extended a partnership it had with
Wal-Mart for five years which allows it to manage 227 stores
within Wal-Mart, according to Standard & Poor's Rating Services
National Vision also has stores inside Fred Meyer Inc and
military bases and sells its products online. The company
employs over 6,000 people, according to its website.
Berkshire Partners took National Vision private in 2005 in a
$190 million deal that was funded with $153 million in debt and
included simultaneously acquiring Consolidated Vision Group Inc,
another optical chain that was backed by private equity firm
Kelso & Company, for $88 million.
In 2009 National Vision acquired EyeGlass World for an
undisclosed amount. Any other equity investments that Berkshire
Partners may have made in National Vision have also not been
disclosed, yet the buyout firm has already got its investor's
money back on its original 2005 investment in the company even
before any sale.
This is because National Vision last year carried out a
dividend recapitalization, borrowing $300 million to fund a $117
million dividend, according to Moody's Investors Service Inc.
This followed another $88 million dividend two years earlier
funded through more debt, according to Thomson Reuters Loan
Boston-based Berkshire Partners, which raised its latest
$4.5 billion fund in 2011, has invested in several other retail
companies, including women's apparel chain Aritzia and jeans
maker Citizens of Humanity.