Thomas H. Lee Company

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"Thomas H. Lee Co. is one of the oldest and most successful private equity investment firms in the United States... Thomas H. Lee may not be a household name, but many of the companies he has owned are. The "Lee" list has included all or part of such companies as General Nutrition (GNC), Ghiradelli Chocolates, The Learning Company, Playtex Home Products, Rayovac Corp., TRW Information Systems & Securities, Sun Pharmaceuticals, and Snapple Beverage Company, just to name a very few.

"The company was founded in 1974 as a private investment firm by Harvard University graduate and former First National Bank of Boston employee Thomas H. Lee. ... Lee's uncle, Herbert Schiff..

"In January 1991, Thomas H. Lee Co. acquired part of a supermarket chain when it bought Florida, New York-based Big V Supermarkets from affiliates of First Boston Corp. and Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. of New York for $212 million...

"A bit of Thomas Lee's success was due to the quality of business partners he surrounds himself with. In February 1996, the company, in its first co-investment with Bain Capital Inc. (whose managing director was Mitt Romney, son of former Michigan Governor George Romney), acquired 84 percent ownership of TRW Information Systems & Services Inc. of Orange, California, for $1 billion from Cleveland-based TRW's much larger manufacturing businesses that make such products as automobile air bags and missile tracking systems.

"The deal for one of the most prominent names in the information business, best known for its reports on Americans' credit histories, as well as being one of the nation's largest providers of real estate information and direct marketing services, was financed by Chemical Banking Corp. and Bankers Trust. The acquisition gave TRW--with consumer credit reporting services in Mexico and Japan, online business credit reports worldwide, a reciprocal partnership with a consortium of European countries and Canada to offer business credit information on European, Canadian, and U.S. companies--the muscle it needed to compete with market leader Atlanta-based Equifax Inc. and third-place Trans Union Corp. of Chicago. A public bond sale was held that June, raising approximately $300 million to help pay for the acquisition. The company's name was changed to Experian Information Solutions.

"Experian was sold in November to Great Universal Stores PLC, a Manchester, United Kingdom-based mail-order giant that also owned the Burberry clothing retailer, for $1.7 billion. The British company, chaired by Lord Wolfson of Sunningdale (chief of staff under British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher), merged Experian into its much smaller credit-reporting business, CCN Group in Nottingham, U.K. and ran it under a holding company, CCN Experian Ltd..." [1]

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  1. fundinguniverse Thomas H. Lee Co. History, organizational web page, accessed February 20, 2013.