Highlander Partners, L.P., a middle-market private investment firm based in Dallas, Texas, announced that it formed Bettera Brands, LLC ("Bettera"), a new holding company headquartered in San Francisco.

Bettera is executing a "buy and build" strategy in the confection and snack industry, targeting acquisitions of companies and assets that have excellent brand equity and strong growth potential.

Bettera is focused on creating value through customer cross-pollination, geographic expansion and new product development.  Bettera's principals have executed more than thirty transactions in the food, confection and snack categories and will use their expertise to pursue acquisitions of both stand-alone businesses and carve-outs from larger companies.  Highlander Partners, the majority shareholder of Bettera, manages its proprietary capital and has over $1.2 billion in capital dedicated to private equity investments.  The firm is committed to providing significant capital to Bettera to facilitate its growth organically and through acquisitions. 

In connection with Bettera's formation, Gimbal Brothers, LLC ("Gimbal's") has been acquired by Highlander.  Gimbal's, founded in 1898, is a leading manufacturer of gummy vitamins and gourmet jelly beans with a long history of exceptional product quality, excellent customer service and strong innovation.  The company has fully integrated manufacturing capabilities, and its production facility is SQF Level 3, NSF/CFR111 certified for vitamins and dietary supplements.  Gimbal's products have a loyal consumer following and can be found in most national retailers across North America.  The existing owners of Gimbal's joined the Bettera ownership and will continue their support of the Gimbal's brand.
Simultaneously with the transaction, Highlander contributed its portfolio company, Hillside Candy, into Bettera, adding the Hillside brands of GoOrganic, GoLightly, Hillside Candy and Pick Your Color to the Bettera portfolio.

Bettera's product offering now includes gourmet jelly beans, gummy vitamins, organic and sugar-free hard and chewy confections, licorice and traditional hard candy.  The Company also uses its unique capabilities to incorporate nutraceutical ingredients and essential oils into confectionery delivery systems, a growing trend in the nutraceutical space.

Estle Kominowski, former COO of Gimbal's and newly-appointed CEO of Bettera Brands, commented, "I am excited to partner with the Highlander team and complement our expertise with their deep experience, industry relationships and financial resources.  As a result of attractive market dynamics, diverse product offerings, and solid operational strength, Gimbal's has experienced strong financial performance that will continue under the Bettera umbrella.  The combined product offering will enhance the Company's success in further penetrating current customers while adding new ones and positions the Company for exceptional performance in the future."

Jeff L. Hull, the newly-appointed Chairman of Bettera and President of Highlander, also commented, "Highlander's forte is a 'buy and build' strategy in fragmented industries, which we have executed successfully in several categories.  Establishing Bettera Brands in conjunction with our acquisition of Gimbal's shortly after we acquired Hillside will provide a launchpad for additional transactions.  This is just the beginning of our long-term vision.  We have a robust pipeline of acquisition opportunities that will complement Bettera's offerings and enhance the Company's position in the market.  Just like the transactions completed to date, we will be looking for quality businesses with strong confection and snack brands, exceptional consumer loyalty, a history of innovation and defensible margins.  We firmly believe that Bettera's strong management team together with Highlander's expertise and significant capital will allow us to build a very special company in the confection and snack space."

Regions Bank, as Administrative Agent, along with a syndicate of participating lenders, provided senior financing and Norwest Mezzanine Partners provided mezzanine debt in support of the transaction.  MHT Partners, an independent investment bank headquartered in Dallas, TX, served as the advisor to Gimbal Brothers.