Exclusive: Yeti Coolers hires banks for IPO - sources

(Reuters) - Yeti Coolers LLC, the U.S. manufacturer of “built-for-the-wild” coolers that can withstand grizzly bear attacks, has hired investment banks for an initial public offering (IPO) that could come later this year, people familiar with the matter said.

The IPO could value Yeti in the billions of dollars, according to the sources. Despite its niche market, Yeti has built a loyal following of affluent hunting and fishing enthusiasts since it was founded 10 years ago.

The fast-growing company expects to achieve earnings before interest, tax, and depreciation (EBITDA) this year in excess of $200 million, according to the sources, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential.

Yeti representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

A key to Yeti’s success has been its ability to sell coolers for hundreds, rather than tens, of dollars. It has done so based on a technology that, according to Yeti, maintains ice better than most coolers, as well as strong marketing that promotes its products as indestructible and a must-have for serious outdoorsmen.

Yeti also makes stainless-steel personal drink coolers, known as ramblers, that are sold for between $30 and $40 and have proved to be a hit with hikers.

The sector has in recent years attracted the interest of major consumer companies. In 2014, household product company Newell Rubbermaid Inc NWL.N paid $208 million for Ignite Holdings LLC, which makes beverage containers under the brands Contigo and Avex.

In 2015, outdoor product company Vista Outdoor Inc VSTO.N purchased water bottle and thermos company CamelBak Products LLC for around $413 million, valuing the company at around 11 times its 12-month EBITDA.

Austin, Texas-based Yeti was founded by brothers Roy and Ryan Seiders, two sportsmen who decided to make coolers for the luxury outdoor market rather than for mass discount retailers. In 2012, they sold majority ownership of Yeti to Cortec Group Management Services LLC, a private equity firm.

While terms of the 2012 deal were not disclosed, the announcement at the time said that Cortec typically targeted companies valued between $30 million and $300 million, including debt.

Last year, Yeti hired Matt Reintjes, who previously run Vista’s $900 million outdoor products division, as its chief executive officer.

Reporting by Lauren Hirsch in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker