New Look Vision Group, a leading optical retailer in Canada, has announced an agreement for its acquisition by NL1 AcquireCo, a newly created investment vehicle composed of funds managed by FFL Partners, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), an investment fund from San Francisco and the family of Dr. Doug Barnes.

The latter is the founder and chairman of Eyemart Express, the Texas-based optical retail group operating the entry-level segment of the market with locations in more than 35 U.S. states under several banners and a total of more than 200 locations. The private equity firm FFL Partners has been a shareholder of Eyemart Express since 2014, among other investments in the health care sector, also including a stake in Eyecare Partners, a group of about 200 optometry and ophthalmology practices in the U.S. CDPQ is a global investment group managing funds for public retirement and insurance plans in Québec.

The investing partners and New Look Vision Group have agreed on a cash transaction at a purchase price of $50 per share, valuating the Canadian group at around $800 million on an equity value basis. The offered price represents a premium of 26 percent to the closing share price of the company on March 18, the day when the agreement was announced.

The agreement still has to receive the customary approvals, as well as the vote of at least two thirds of New Look Vision Group shareholders in a special online meeting to be held by next May 21 latest. The transaction is expected to be finalized before the end of June 2021. Antoine Amiel, CEO of the Canadian group, has agreed to roll-over his shares into the capital of the new owner while John Bennett, chairman, will transfer a portion of his participation.

New Look Vision Group reported annual revenues of 297.9 million Canadian dollars (€199.5m-$237.3m) in 2019, its last complete financial year, representing a 2.3 percent increase from the previous year. Adjusted EBITDA stood at C$55.8 million (€37.4m-$44.5m) in 2019. For the last nine months of its current fiscal year, the group revenues dropped by 18.6 percent year-on-year to C$182.3 million (€122.1m-$145.2m), but the company managed to increase its adjusted EBITDA by 23.4 percent year-on-year to C$51.3 million (€34.3m-$40.9m).

New Look Vision Group currently manages a total of 406 retail locations under the New Look Eyewear, Vogue Optical, Greiche & Scaff and Iris banners in Canada, and the Edward Beiner chain in Florida. It also operates a lens laboratory in Québec.