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Newell's Sale of Irwin Tools is Just the First Step in Divestiture of Business Lines

The divestitures come amid a strategic review of business conducted since the merger of Newell Rubbermaid and Yankee Candle owner Jarden

Newell Brands Inc. (NYSE: NWL) is selling 10 percent of its portfolio to focus on fast-growing core businesses, such as writing, home fragrance, baby and food storage. Newell, which owns the Elmer’s and Sharpie Brands, will use the proceeds from the divestitures to fund future acquisitions and pay down debt. The company has already been reshaping its portfolio through M&A and now is going to expand those efforts.

Most of the properties up for sale are from the following divisions: outdoor solutions, which is known for the K2 brand; consumer solutions, including heaters, humidifiers, and fans; and home solutions, including the consumer container business. The lines being sold produced $1.5 billion in net sales in 2015. Newell is aiming to complete the process in the first half of 2017. The company agreed to sell its tool business, known for the Irwin brand, to Stanley Black & Decker Inc. (NYSE: SWK) for $1.95 billion.

“Newell Brands new strategic plan establishes a clear set of investment priorities, a new organization design for the company, and a sharp set of portfolio choices that will focus our resources on the businesses with the greatest potential for growth and value creation,” says Newell CEO Michael Polk. Hoboken, New Jersey-based based Newell has been reviewing its portfolio since the company completed its $15 billion purchase of Yankee Candle owner Jarden earlier in 2016.áPolk said when the Jarden merger was announced that he was aiming to cut $500 million in costs out of the business within four years.

Newell launched its Growth Game Plan in 2012 to create a “larger, faster growing, more global and more profitable company." One of the purposes of the new strategy is to allow Newell to focus on businesses, such as writing, baby and parenting product lines. Elmer’s was added to the writing division, which houses the Sharpie brand, and is already helping that business grow in sales. In addition to its namesake brand, Elmer’s also owns Krazy Glue, and X-Acto, which is known for making cutting blades. In 2014, Newell completed the $210 million purchase of baby stroller maker Baby Jogger from the Riverside Co.

To help its growth process, Newell has also been divesting assets along the way. For instance, Newell sold the Levolor and Kirsch window shade brands to Hunter Douglas for $270 million. In 2015, the company completed the $215 million sale of the Endicia Internet mailing services business to Stamps.com, and in that same year Newell sold its mobile work station business to Capsa Solutions. Back in 2013, the company sold five hardware brands to private equity firm Nova Capital Management. Newell won Mergers & Acquisitions’ 2015 M&A Mid-Market Award for Strategic Buyer of the Year.

Several consumer companies have been reshuffling their portfolios through M&A in an effort to boost profitability. Prestige Brands Holdings Inc. (NYSE: PBH) has agreed to sell the Fiber Choice, New Skin and PediaCare brands to Moberg Pharma AB for $40 million in cash. The sale is part of Prestige’s “invest for growth” plan, while it gives Moberg a chance to expand in the U.S. Church & Dwight Co. (NYSE: CHD) sold the Cameo copper and brass cleaner, Snobol toilet bowl cleaner and the Parsons’ ammonia brands to Brillo owner Armaly Brands. ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG) completed the sale the JM Swank food ingredient distribution business to Platinum Equity. The company is in the process of spinning off the Lamb Weston frozen french fries division into a separate publicly-traded company and completed the sale of its private label division.

 

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