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Harvest Partners Acquires Levlad and Arbonne, Leaders in Personal Care Products

NEW YORK, Dec 1, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Harvest Partners, Inc. announced today that it has formed Natural Products Group, LLC (NPG), a special purpose holding company, which has completed the acquisition of Levlad, Inc. and its subsidiary Arbonne International, Inc., leaders in the manufacture and distribution of personal care products with combined estimated net sales of approximately $200 million for 2004. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Harvest Partners is a leading New York-based private equity investment firm specializing in management buyouts and growth financings of middle-market companies. Harvest provided equity for this transaction through its partnership, Harvest Partners IV, L.P. This is the firm's second consumer products deal this year, following the acquisition in July of Evenflo Company, Inc., a leading baby care and juvenile products manufacturer.

Levlad, headquartered in Chatsworth, California, manufactures and markets branded natural and organic personal care products, including shampoos, conditioners, soaps, bath gels, lotions, deodorants and toothpaste, under the brand names Nature's Gate(R) and Nature's Gate(R) Organics(R), which are sold through well-known specialty retailers including Whole Foods Market, Inc. and Wild Oats Markets, Inc., as well as a large number of health food and other specialty stores. Levlad's branded products utilize all-natural herbs and pH-balanced, biodegradable formulas, and reflect the company's ongoing commitment to environmentally friendly and cruelty-free production.

Founded in 1972, Levlad was one of the first manufacturers of natural personal care products. The company has the #1 market position in the natural hair care market, and its 350 branded products hold leading market positions across additional key product categories. Levlad also provides value-added, turnkey manufacturing and formulation services to private label customers, including a number of fast-growing consumer products marketers and retailers.

Based in Irvine, California, Arbonne sells its own branded line of more than 250 Swiss formulated herbal and botanical personal care products through a direct-sales network of independent consultants in the United States and Canada. Arbonne offers a broad portfolio of health and beauty care products including skin care, body and hair care, cosmetics, aromatherapy and nutritional products. The products are botanically based, pH correct, dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic and never tested on animals. Arbonne markets most of its products as part of a comprehensive skin, hair and cosmetic regimen designed for combined and repeat use. The company was founded in Switzerland in 1975 and was established in the U.S. in 1980.

Together, the companies have approximately 650 employees.

Ira Kleinman, Senior Managing Director of Harvest, said, "The personal care products industry is a very large, growing market in which we have seen major shifts towards natural and organic products. The acquisition of Levlad and Arbonne provides us with a diverse platform that will allow us to capitalize on both dynamics. Both businesses have established themselves as leaders in their respective categories and have grown rapidly in recent years. The consumable nature of their products, highly cash-generative operations and excellent management teams make both companies compelling investments for Harvest. We see a tremendous opportunity to unlock value by supporting the independent development of both organizations and positioning them for future growth."

"Our investment in Levlad will bolster the Nature's Gate(R) and Nature's Gate(R) Organics(R) brands and expand upon their leadership positions in the fast-growing natural and organic personal care market. At the same time, we seek to build upon the company's partnerships with its key private label customers," added Michael B. DeFlorio, Managing Director of Harvest. "At Arbonne, we plan to build the infrastructure necessary to support the continued growth of the consultant base and invest in marketing and sales support that will increase market penetration in the nearly $30 billion direct sales industry."

To that end, Harvest will augment the management team of Arbonne. Stephen Biroczky, CEO of Levlad since 1991, will remain in that position, and Robert Henry, a seasoned direct selling industry executive who served most recently as CEO of Mannatech Inc., and prior to that with Avon Products, Inc. and Amway Corporation in multiple roles, will become CEO of Arbonne. Senior management is co-investing with Harvest in NPG.

Biroczky said, "We are excited by the opportunity to work with the Harvest team. Harvest's experience with consumer products companies and their commitment to continued investment in quality and development will help secure our future as we are poised to take both Levlad and Arbonne to the next level."

Chris Whalen, Merrick Axel and Trevor Nelson of Harvest also worked on the transaction. Senior debt financing for the transaction was arranged by CIBC World Markets, with subordinated debt financing provided by TCW/Crescent Mezzanine. White & Case served as legal advisors to Harvest on the transaction.

About Harvest Partners

Founded in 1981, Harvest Partners is a leading New York-based private equity investment firm, pursuing management buyouts and growth financings of profitable, medium-sized businesses. Focused on specialty services, consumer, manufacturing and value-added distribution businesses, Harvest has over 20 years of experience investing in domestic as well as multinational companies. Currently, Harvest has over $1 billion of invested and committed capital under management from its limited partners, which include numerous pension funds, domestic and international industrial corporations, and various financial institutions. For more information on Harvest Partners, please visit the web site at

Select Harvest portfolio companies include Evenflo Company, Inc., a leading manufacturer and marketer of a full line of juvenile products; Communications Supply Corporation, a leading U.S. distributor of low voltage network infrastructure products; New Flyer Holdings, Inc., the largest North American manufacturer of transit buses; Associated Materials, Inc., a leading manufacturer and distributor of residential building products; and Global Power Equipment Group, Inc. (GEG), a leading designer, engineer and fabricator of gas turbine power plant-related products.

This press release contains statements which are forward-looking statements within the meaning of applicable federal securities laws and are based upon the Company's current expectations and assumptions which are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to materially differ from those anticipated.

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