Canadian Pension Fund to Buy Doane

Monday, August 29th 2005, 12:45 pm
By: News On 6

TORONTO (AP) _ The investment arm of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan announced Monday it plans to buy the largest manufacturer of private label pet food in the United States for about $840 billion, the latest in a series of U.S. purchases by one of North America's largest private investors.

The deal will see Teachers' Private Capital acquire all of the outstanding stock of Doane Pet Care Enterprises Inc., which owns Doane Pet Care Co.

Doane Pet Care, based in Brentwood, Tenn., is the largest manufacturer of private label pet food and the second-largest manufacturer of dry pet food in the United States. It sells to about 550 customers around the world and serves many of the top pet food retailers in the United States, Europe and Japan.

``This is a very significant investment for us in the U.S. in an expanding industry,'' Ontario Teachers' spokeswoman Lee Fullerton said. ``This is an excellent investment in a strong, growing company and our intention is to help it grow further and help it expand worldwide.''

The deal is expected to close in mid-November.

In recent years, the Teacher's fund has been rapidly growing its presence outside the stock and bond markets, its traditional investments, in a bid to increase investment returns to pay for its growing pension plan liabilities as more and more older teachers retire in the Ontario school system.

With more than $5.8 billion in assets, Teachers Private Capital will continue to seek investment opportunities in the U.S. as it attempts to double the size of its private equity portfolio, Fullerton said.

Earlier this month, the pension fund and Los Angeles-based investment firm Ares Management LLC teamed up to buy National Bedding Co., maker of Serta mattresses.

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, which invests on behalf of 255,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario, has about $73 billion in assets.

Its other significant investments include Worldspan and Alliance Laundry Systems in the U.S., as well as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors, and Parmalat Canada, a major milk and dairy products producer.