AEA Investors to Acquire a Majority Interest in 1-800 Contacts


DRAPER, Utah—AEA Investors, LP announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a majority interest of 1-800 Contacts from Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P., who will remain a significant shareholder in the company. Credit Suisse and Barclays, as well as an affiliate of the Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs, are providing debt financing to support the purchase. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

"We welcome AEA's new investment alongside THL as a strong reflection of the company's success in growing its business and an indication of how well 1-800 Contacts is positioned in the marketplace," said Brian Bethers, CEO of 1-800 Contacts. "We intend to maintain and extend the company's market leading strategies and exceptional customer service through a continued commitment to our core values."

1-800 Contacts is the largest retailer of contact lenses in the U.S. Through its website, its easy-to-remember telephone number, and its 5-star mobile app, the company has served almost 11 million customers, delivering more than 200,000 contact lenses every day. The company also provides contact lens sourcing and fulfillment services to leading brick-and-mortar retailers.

1-800 Contacts was acquired by Thomas H. Lee Partners in 2014, after it was divested by WellPoint Partners, as VMail reported.

AEA was advised by Credit Suisse and Barclays and THL and 1-800 Contacts was advised by CapM Advisors.

Founded by the Rockefeller, Mellon and Harriman family interests and S.G. Warburg & Co. in 1968, AEA Investors is a pioneer in the private equity industry with an unparalleled global network of investors, business leaders and sector-focused industry professionals. AEA's individual investors include more than 75 of the world's leading industrial families, business executives and former government leaders. AEA Investors currently manages funds that have approximately $9.0 billion of invested and committed capital including the leveraged buyouts of middle market companies and small business companies and mezzanine and senior debt investing.

Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. is one of the world's oldest and most experienced private equity firms. The firm invests in growth-oriented businesses, headquartered principally in North America, across three broad sectors: Consumer & Healthcare, Media & Information Services and Business & Financial Services. Since its founding in 1974, THL has raised over $20 billion of equity capital and invested in more than 130 businesses with an aggregate purchase price of more than $150 billion.