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General Nutrition Agrees to Be Acquired

From Associated Press

General Nutrition Corp., one of the nation’s largest retailers of health products, has agreed to be purchased by a Boston-based investment firm for nearly $330 million, officials said Monday.

GNC’s board unanimously agreed to sell the company to Thomas H. Lee Co. and its affiliate, ML-Lee Acquisition Fund L.P., which specialize in leveraged buyouts.

Officials said the cash tender offer calls for payment of $11.50 a share to the holders of 28.7 million shares, or 91.3%, of GNC’s outstanding common stock on or before next Monday.

GNC Chairman Jerry D. Horn said the company’s management was pleased with the planned transaction.

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“Our commitment to enhance shareholder value while providing General Nutrition with a new, more growth-oriented investor base has been realized,” Horn said.

Horn said the $11.50 tender price represents a 48% premium to the market price of GNC stock on March 23, the day before the possible sale of the company was announced.

Neither Lee nor GNC officials said how the sale would affect the company’s management or its operations.

Thomas H. Lee and ML-Lee own or partly own Playtex Family Products Co., Stanley Interiors Corp., National Shoes and American Health Cos.

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General Nutrition operates about 1,100 General Nutrition Center stores nationwide.


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