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Private equity firm KKR to purchase National Vision

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February 8
10:07 AM 2014

Investment firm KKR is going to purchase National Vision, the Lawrenceville, Georgia-based operator of America's Best Contacts & Eyeglasses and Eyeglass World, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

Although the terms of the transaction were not provided, some news sources said the deal was worth a little over $1 billion. There are over 750 low-price vision centers in the US operated by National Vision. It also offers its products online through 25 websites, the report said.

In a February 7 Reuters report, National Vision would be acquired from Berkshire Partners Llc. According to KKR, the management team of National Vision is expected to still have a significant investment in the firm. In December, Reuters also reported that KKR was one of the private equity companies that have expressed interest in acquiring the firm. National Vision had hired Barclays for the transaction.

Reuters reported that National Vision was taken private in 2005 by Berkshire Partners in a deal worth $190 million. A $153 million debt helped financed the deal which also included the simultaneous acquisition of Consolidated Vision Group Inc worth $88 million. Consolidated Vision Group is an optical chain supported by Kelso & Company, a private equity firm. National Vision bought EyeGlass World in 2009 for an undisclosed amount, the report said.

Berkshire Partners and National Vision had Weil, Gotshal & Manges Llp as their legal adviser for the transaction while KKR's legal adviser was Simpson Thacher & Bartlett Llp. Wells Fargo also served as the financial adviser to National Vision, the report said.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution quoted the statement of National Vision Chief Executive Officer Reade Fahs who said about the deal, "We have had an absolutely marvelous eight year relationship with Berkshire Partners and are so appreciative of all they have done to support our growth and help get us to where we are today. The NVI team is anticipating and looking forward to a very similar sort of relationship with KKR."

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