Merisant leaves bankruptcy, appoints chairman

by Jeff Gelski
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CHICAGO — Merisant Co. has completed its financial restructuring, emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and appointed new members to its board of directors, including a new chairman of the board, the company said Jan. 11.

Private investment funds managed by Wayzata Investment Partners, L.L.C. are now the majority stockholder of Chicago-based Merisant Co., now the parent company of the Merisant group of companies. Wayzata has named Eugene (Gene) Davis as chairman of the board. He is chairman and chief executive officer of Pirinate Consulting Group, L.L.C., Livingston, N.J., which specializes in strategic planning for public and private companies. Mr. Davis succeeds Paul Block, who was Merisant’s chairman from 2005-10. Mr. Block will remain as Merisant’s president and c.e.o.

Besides Mr. Davis and Mr. Block, Merisant’s board of directors will include Joseph M. Deignan, Wayzata partner; William P. Murnane, Wayzata operating partner; Tom Paulson, vice-president and chief financial officer of Tennant Co.; Robert F. Waldron, chief marketing officer of The Sun Products Corp.; and Ryan Langdon, co-founder and senior manager director of Newport Global Advisors.

Merisant Worldwide, Inc., a global leader in tabletop sweeteners, and its U.S. subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 protection on Jan. 9, 2009. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on Dec. 16, 2009, approved Merisant’s reorganization plan, which reduces the aggregate principal amount of Merisant’s debt to about $147 million from $567 million.

“The financial restructuring provides the right capital structure and resources for Merisant to aggressively pursue its goal of becoming a leading consumer packaged goods company,” Mr. Block said. “Merisant has an enviable portfolio of sweeteners and considerable opportunity in the natural sweetener category. We are now better equipped to capitalize on these assets.”

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