Middleby Corp., a commercial food-service equipment company, purchased the privately held Greenwood, Miss.–based Viking Range Corp. for $380 million in a cash deal announced Dec. 31. Based in Elgin, Ill., Middleby has just a tiny slice of the residential appliance market; it primarily makes and sells kitchen equipment for sit-down and fast-food restaurants in the United States and abroad. Publicly traded on the Nasdaq, Middleby reported $746 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2012 and paid dividends of $1.60 per diluted share in the third quarter.
With the acquisition of Viking, though, Middleby has established a strong—and long-desired—foothold on the residential side. “I’ve been chasing Viking for a long time,” Selim Bassoul, Middleby’s chairman and CEO, said during a conference call on the deal.
The December transaction will bring Viking’s estimated $200 million in annual sales to Middleby, whose expansion-oriented executives see Viking as a way to grow Middleby and take advantage of an improving housing market. “We are entering the cycle at a very good time—at the start of a new housing cycle,” said Bassoul. “I think there’s a great platform for the future in this space, not only for organic growth, but also for future acquisitions in that space.”
Where might that growth come from? Middleby executives speculated that they might expand Viking internationally. Currently, between 5% and 10% of Viking revenues come from overseas; Middleby thinks that share could grow to 20% within five years. The new owners also hope to expand Viking’s “cold” offerings of refrigerators, wine coolers, and more. “We like that segment,” said Bassoul. “We will put focus on Viking to penetrate that segment.”
Middleby executives are not as excited about Viking’s dishwashers and cutlery, which represent only small portions of Viking’s product line. “At the moment, we are not sure what we will do with those businesses,” Bassoul said.