Fonds de solidarité backs New Look’s $120M acquisition of Iris

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By Ted Liu

New Look Vision Group Inc. (TSX: BCI), a portfolio company of Benvest Holdings Limited, has closed previously announced acquisition of Iris, le groupe visuel (1990) Inc. for $120 million on a cash-free and debt-free basis. The transaction closed on October 24, 2017.

New Look Vision financed the acquisition through an increase to its senior secured term facility with its bank syndicate, a new junior unsecured debt facility and the private placement of 1,616,000 subscription receipts at a price of $30.94 per subscription receipt. These subscription receipts were exchangeable today for 1,616,000 Class A common shares of New Look Vision following the close of the acquisition.

On July 18, 2017, New Look Vision completed the $50 million subscription receipts financing, including 646,400 subscription receipts issued to an unnamed Québec based fund.

Fonds de solidarité disclosed today that it has invested $55 million in New Look Vision in support of the acquisition. It is not clear if Fonds de solidarité’s investment is in the form of combination of debt and equity (as the unnamed Québec based fund) or all in the form of debt.

This is the Fonds de solidarité second investment in New Look Vision since its first investment in 2013. It previously held $12 million in equity investment and $15 million in loan in New Look Vision.

New Look Vision is a leader in the eye care industry in Canada comprised of a network of 379 locations mainly under the New Look Eyewear, Vogue Optical, Greiche & Scaff and Iris banners and laboratory facilities using state-of-the-art technologies.

Founded in 1990 by Dr. Francis Jean in Baie-Comeau, Quebec and based in Laval, Quebec, Iris is a leading optometrist based retail eye care provider across Canada with a network of 150 locations, comprising 53 corporate, 77 jointly owned and 20 franchise locations. The Iris banner is recognized nationally with locations in Quebec (82), British Columbia (36), Alberta (16), Ontario (15) and New Brunswick (1).

photo credit: Iris