Natural Foods Merchandiser

GNC Proposes $345 Million IPO

Six months after its acquisition by Apollo Management, GNC Corp. of Pittsburgh filed an initial public offering on May 28 that could raise $345 million.

New York-based Apollo paid $747.4 million for GNC in December 2003. Seller Royal Numico NV of the Netherlands bought GNC for $2.5 billion in 1999. After the IPO, Apollo will control about 70 percent of GNC.

GNC posted a profit of $16.2 million in the first quarter of 2004, compared with a $22.4 million loss for the year-ago quarter.

Analyst Pat Turpin of USBX Advisory Services in Santa Monica, Calif., said GNC?s quick recovery shows Apollo was the right buyer. ?They?re very sharp guys,? he said. ?They really understand specialty retail. They saw a great brand and a great company that was being mismanaged.?

Under new Chief Executive Lou Mancini, GNC has retreated from mass-market offerings and focused on products with which the chain?s 5,000-plus stores can differentiate themselves, such as Sylvester Stallone?s Instone nutrition and diet line, which launched exclusively at GNC stores in May.

?If I?m a supplements manufacturer, I want to see a healthy GNC,? Turpin said. ?It?s good for the industry.?

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 7/p. 10

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