Jon Huntsman Sr. Returns to Private Equity with Rocket Fuel Deal

November 16, 2015, 7:07 PM UTC
2015 Carnegie Medal Of Philanthropy Award Ceremony
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 15: Medalist Jon Huntsman, Sr (R) accepts award at the 2015 Carnegie Medal Of Philanthropy Award Ceremony at New York Public Library on October 15, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/Getty Images)
Photograph by Steve Mack — Getty Images

Huntsman Family Investments has gotten into the rocket fuel business, by agreeing to acquire the specialty chemicals division of American Pacific Corp. from private equity firm H.I.G. Capital. No financial terms were disclosed, although the deal appears to be well into 9-figure territory, based on the debt syndication ask.

Two related notes:

1. This is the first private equity deal for Huntsman Family Investments, which is the family office of Utah chemicals billionaire Jon Huntsman Sr. (who also founded a private equity firm, HGGC, with which he is no longer involved). The office’s private equity plan is to lead deals within the chemicals space, and to solicit other family offices as co-investors. It also will take minority stakes in other deals outside its core competency, on an opportunistic basis. Huntsman Sr., 78, is said to be involved in decision-making, although the deal business is led by son Paul Huntsman and principal Ben Wu (both of whom re former HGGC staffers). Jon Huntsman Jr., the former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China, serves as a senior advisor.

2. American Pacific Corp., which was acquired by H.I.G. Capital in early 2014 for $380 million in cash, features both a fine chemicals business (based in Sacramento) and a specialty chemicals business (based in Utah). H.I.G. is retaining the fine chemicals unit. The specialty chemicals group being acquired by Huntsman Family Investments is the sole provider of ammonium perchlorate used in solid propellant rockets, booster motors, and missiles that are utilized by the U.S. Department of Defense. It also supplies rocket propellant to NASA.

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