Tilia Holdings sells Universal Pure Holdings

Tilia Holdings sells Universal Pure Holdings.

Tilia Holdings, a Chicago-based private equity firm focused on investing in the evolving “farm-to-fork” segment of the global food supply chain, announces that it has sold its portfolio company Universal Pure Holdings to Aurora Capital Partners on October 31, 2022. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. 

Universal Pure is the market-leading provider of food safety solutions for cold chain-oriented human and pet food customers.  As the largest independent provider of high pressure processing services (“HPP”) in North America, the company’s mission-critical suite of supply chain services help to ensure the safety and quality of food and beverage products. HPP is a high-growth food safety and quality technology used to inactivate foodborne pathogens and spoilage microorganisms in food and beverage products. HPP extends product shelf-life without the use of additives or preservatives, enabling clean-labels and significantly reducing food waste while avoiding compromises in taste, texture and/or nutritional value. Universal Pure was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in Lincoln, NE. Tilia invested in Universal Pure in November 2018 alongside HPP industry veteran Jeff Williams who serves as the company’s CEO.

Eric Larson, Tilia Co-CEO and chairman of the board said, “Universal Pure is exemplary of our thematic sector approach to investing, deep understanding of scaling food safety companies, and unique active partnership approach to sustainable value creation, The Tilia Way.  Our mission is to meet global needs for health by investing to transition towards a safer, more nutritious and more sustainable food system. Our investment in Universal Pure aligned squarely with that mission.”  

Johannes Burlin, Tilia Co-CEO and board d of Universal Pure added, “From the onset of working with Jeff, our strategy was to transition Universal Pure to a national food safety platform of scale in the cold chain. During our stewardship of the company, we worked collaboratively with Jeff and the leadership team to successfully execute this transition and deliver returns on behalf of our investors.” 

“We are grateful for Tilia’s unwavering support and active partnership over the past four years,” commented Jeff Williams, CEO of Universal Pure. “Over the course of Tilia’s stewardship, Universal Pure has invested in, built, and grown a diverse set of food safety solutions to successfully execute our growth strategy and better serve the needs of our customers.  With Tilia’s encouragement, we made significant investments in our organization, and we are incredibly proud of and thankful for the devoted team we have built, which has grown to 800 employees.  We are well-positioned for continued growth as a trusted food safety and supply chain partner to our customers, and we look forward to building upon these successes in our next chapter with Aurora.”

Rob Celin, Tilia principal and chief of staff and board director of Universal Pure added, “We are delighted with this successful outcome for our investors and the company. Universal Pure has performed exceptionally under Jeff’s leadership, and it has been a privilege working alongside the entire Universal Pure team to execute our value creation plan. We are confident that the significant investments made to develop Universal Pure’s footprint, HPP capacity, service offering, and world-class team and organization position the company for accelerated growth.  We believe Aurora will be a great partner to Universal Pure and wish for their continued success moving forward.”

The sale transaction was led by Co-CEOs Eric Larson and Johannes Burlin, Principal and Chief of Staff Rob Celin, and Associate Steve Marvin. William Blair & Company and Houlihan Lokey Capital served as financial advisors and Mayer Brown served as legal advisor in connection with the sale. 

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