Lassonde Industries Inc., a manufacturer and marketer of fruit juices and juice drinks based in Rougemont, Quebec, has entered into a definitive agreement through its U.S. subsidiary US Juice Partners LLC to acquire Apple & Eve LLC, Port Washington, N.Y., for approximately $150 million. Subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions, the transaction is expected to close this month.

Apple & Eve was founded by the Crane family 40 years ago and offers more than 100 different juice products sold under its flagship brand name, Apple & Eve, as well as a portfolio of sub-brands including Organics, Fruitables, Quenchers, Waterfruits and Sesame Street. Additionally, it owns and markets juices under the Northland, Seneca and The Switch brand names.

ClearLight Partners, a private equity firm based in Newport Beach, Calif., recapitalized Apple & Eve in partnership with management in October 2007. Upon closing of the transaction, Lassonde will have a 90 percent equity interest in Apple & Eve and its complete line of fruit juice and juice drink brands, which are distributed across the United States. Through their existing equity interest in the acquiring U.S. subsidiary and a capital contribution to the acquisition financing, members of the Lassonde family will own the remaining 10 percent equity interest.

"Apple & Eve's strong track record reflects the strength of the company's brands, commitment to innovation, and quality of management and employees,” said Michael Kaye, founder and managing partner of ClearLight Partners, in a statement. “We wish Gordon Crane and the entire Apple & Eve management and employees much continued success."

Lassonde expects the acquisition to provide it with increased critical mass to support customers throughout the United States; offer a more diversified and balanced product portfolio in the United States; provide an entry point in national brand products in the U.S. market; and present growth opportunities in the U.S. juice and juice drink market for Lassonde’s existing products. It also expects the companies’ combined logistics, distribution, purchasing and other economies of scale to benefit its customers.

“Our entry into the branded juice business in the United States represents another major milestone in our North American strategy,” said Pierre-Paul Lassonde, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Lassonde Industries Inc., in a statement. “It is aligned with our strategy of consistent, measured growth and enhances our overall position in the industry by providing an excellent platform for the future.”

Gordon Crane, founder, president and chief executive officer of Apple & Eve, added in a statement: "I am so proud of what we have built at Apple & Eve over the last 40 years, and as [chief executive officer] I look forward to entering a new, exciting chapter in our company's history. By joining Lassonde Industries, I am confident that our combined entities will deliver strong growth behind the brands we have built. We will remain highly focused on creating innovative, on-trend products under the widely recognized Apple & Eve brand and our other strong brands.”