Round Hill Investments acquired New England Confectionery Co. (NECCO) for $17.3 million in a sale that closed Thursday.
The firm, owned by billionaire Dean Metropoulos and his sons Daren and Evan, salvaged Hostess when it filed for bankruptcy in 2012. NECCO has been acquired under an entity called Sweetheart Candy Co.
“We are extremely excited to bring our extensive background and expertise to bear in working to revive NECCO and its amazing brands, all of which have a special place in the heart of Americana,” Evan Metropoulos said.
In March NECCO CEO Michael McGee announced massive layoffs if the company could not find a buyer. Two months later, after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a federal judge opened the bidding process, setting the minimum bid at $13.96 million.
Spangler Candy Co., maker of Dum Dum lollipops, made the winning bid of $18.83 million during a May 23 bankruptcy auction. However, the deal fell through shortly afterward because NECCO could not meet closing conditions set forth under Spangler’s purchase agreement.
The Metropoulos family has a long track record of reinvigorating classic brands. In addition to Hostess, the firm has helped turn around Pabst Blue Ribbon, Bumble Bee, Chef Boyardee, Vlasic, Ghirardelli and Perrier Jouet, among others. Over the last four decades, the family has invested in approximately 80 entities.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with the Metropoulos team given their impressive track record working with great consumer brands and strong commitment to supporting customers with outstanding products and service levels going forward,” McGee said.
In addition to financial trouble, NECCO had run afoul of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a warning letter the agency made public last month. The FDA said an inspection between Nov. 13, 2017 and Dec. 14, 2017, revealed violations of food safety regulations.
“The violations included significant evidence of rodent activity and insanitary conditions throughout [the] facility,” the letter reads.
NECCO had until June 3 to report measures taken to address the violations or the company faced fines and other action.
Founded in 1847, the Revere, Mass.-based company has produced several legacy candy items such as Sweethearts, Necco wafers, and Haviland Thin Mints.