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Pegasus increases equity ownership in Hain Pure Protein

The Hain Celestial Group, a natural and organic products company, has reached an agreement with Pegasus Capital Advisors under which Pegasus has acquired a controlling interest in the H

The Hain Celestial Group, a natural and organic products company, has reached an agreement with Pegasus Capital Advisors under which Pegasus has acquired a controlling interest in the Hain Pure Protein joint venture.

As a result, Pegasus will own approximately 51 per cent of the Hain Pure Protein equity, while Hain Celestial will own 49 per cent.

Hain Pure Protein has also entered into a USD30m credit facility with Wachovia Bank.

With its increased equity ownership in Hain Pure Protein, Rodney Cohen, co-managing partner of Pegasus, has been appointed chairman of the board of directors of the joint venture.

Jay Lieberman, formerly vice president-financial planning and analysis at Hain Celestial, has been appointed Hain Pure Protein’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer. Reporting to Lieberman will be Joseph A. DePippo, president-sales, marketing and chicken operations and James C. Reed, president of turkey operations.

Cohen says: "As we continue to work with Hain Celestial, we’re excited about the continued opportunities for Hain Pure Protein. Hain Pure Protein is positioned for continued growth in a growing category as a leader in the natural, antibiotic-free, vegetarian fed chicken and turkey market."

Hain Pure Protein was formed in July 2005 to establish FreeBird Chicken, which specialises in natural, organic and antibiotic-free chicken. In August 2007 Hain Pure Protein acquired the assets of Plainville Turkey Farm, a supplier of natural and antibiotic-free whole turkeys and deli turkey products in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. In March 2008, the company expanded its turkey operations with the acquisition of a facility in New Oxford, Pennsylvania. Earlier this year, Hain Pure Protein commenced operations of the Kosher Valley brand, a new certified kosher brand of all-natural, antibiotic-free, vegetarian fed and humanely raised chicken and turkey products.

Irwin Simon, president and chief executive officer of Hain Celestial, says: "With consumers seeking more antibiotic-free poultry, we’re excited about Hain Pure Protein’s prospects, having taken the business from incubation to over USD160m in sales today. We look forward to working with our partners at Pegasus on Hain Pure Protein’s future continued success."

The impact of this transaction will not be material to Hain Celestial’s net income, however, Hain Celestial anticipates that Hain Pure Protein will no longer be consolidated into Hain Celestial’s financial statements but rather will be accounted for on the equity method.

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