Who are the new majority shareholders of American Greetings?

After Tuesday’s big news about the takeover of American Greetings by investment company, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, more details have emerged about the deal which will see the Weiss Family – descendants of Jacob Sapirstein, who founded the company in 1906 – retaining a 40% stake in the business.

Jeff Weiss (left) current ceo of American Greetings with James Conn (right), the new ceo of UK Greetings from March 1.
Jeff Weiss (left) current ceo of American Greetings with James Conn (right), the new ceo of UK Greetings from March 1.

When the deal closes in the next 45 days, the Weiss family will still hold positions on the Board, with Zev Weiss and Jeffrey Weiss, current co-ceos and Morry Weiss, current chairman taking up roles on the Board. John Beeder, the current president and chief operating officer, will become chief executive officer. David Scheible, an operating advisor to Clayton, Dubilier & Rice funds and former chairman and ceo of Graphic Packaging, will assume the role of chairman of American Greetings.

Jacob Saperstein in 1880.
Jacob Saperstein in 1880.

American Greetings was founded as Sapirstein Greeting Card Co. in 1906 by Polish immigrant Jacob Sapirstein. Members of the family have operated the company since its inception. Patrice Molnar, American Greetings director of corporate communications told local American news website Cleveland.com: “We anticipate business as usual. Current management of AG is expected to remain in place. And this transaction will not disrupt product, supply, or any other aspect of the business. It was important to the Weiss family to choose an investment partner who shares their commitment to the business.”

So what about the investors who now have the major say in the world’s second largest card company? Founded in 1978, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice is one of the oldest private equity investment firms in the world. Since inception, CD&R has managed the investment of $25 billion in 78 companies with an aggregate transaction value of more than $100 billion. The firm has offices in New York and London. Its investments in the UK include B&M Retail (the number 2 discount retailer in the UK; CD&R acquired the business in 2005) and BCA (Europe’s number 1 vehicle auction company, selling over £4billion of used cars annually). The majority of the rest of the company’s investments are in the US spread across consumer/retail, healthcare and industrial.

Clintons will stay in ownership of the Weiss family.
Clintons will stay in ownership of the Weiss family.

The deal sees UK Greetings become part of the investment company, but Clintons, the UK retail chain that AG acquired in June 2012, is not included and ownership will remain with the Weiss family.

Eddie Shepherd, ceo of Clintons, said: “The Clintons team are delighted that we will continue to benefit from the Weiss family’s knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm for real-world personal greetings. Clintons has gone through a period of positive change in recent years, with a rebranded store portfolio, an optimised network of stores, and significant enhancements to the customer proposition. We look forward to many years of positive performance ahead.”

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