WPC Brands denies rumors of company sale

Faster than an outbreak of West Nile virus, rumors spread in late October that WPC Brands was being sold.

Faster than an outbreak of West Nile virus, rumors spread in late October that WPC Brands was being sold.

WPC Brands owns outdoor health and safety products, including Atwater Carey First Aid Kits, Repel Insect Repellents, Reflect Sun Care Products and Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets.

Despite the rumblings, WPC Brands President Jim Burt told SNEWS that these are just rumors.

"WPC Brands has not been sold," he said. "There are rumors to that effect because we have a financial partner that is past its planned five-year horizon, and wants to get liquidity. We've agreed to provide that, and we've been looking at a number of alternatives, which starts the inevitable rumors."

Burt said the financial partner wants to exit "because they have started their own fund with totally different targets for their investment, in situations where they control them, rather than being a minority investor."

Sources told SNEWS that United Industries, owner of Cutters repellents, was interested in acquiring WPC Brands. In stores such as Wal Mart, WPC Brands is a main competitor for Cutters, and sources say United Industries would love to eliminate that competition.

Burt would not comment on United Industries.

He did emphasize that no one should infer from any rumors that WPC Brands is financially unhealthy. "This year our productivity has increased dramatically. The company closed its fiscal year at the end of October with record earnings," he said.

Burt said that sales have grown 20 percent over the past year, boosted by increased concern over the West Nile virus.

While insect repellents represent a large portion of WPC's sales, Burt said he hopes to strengthen its other outdoor specialty products and "make them more equivalent with the contribution we get from our insect repellent line."

SNEWS View: Talk about a convoluted rumor mill that keeps changing shape faster than an amoeba. Inside sources close to the deals (note we used the plural, though, don't take us to the bank on that) tell us the favorite rumor is that Katadyn/PUR will be acquiring Potable Aqua and PA -- though Katadyn has declined official comment. While we are sure Katadyn might be interested, the company just announced the launch of its own water-purification tablet under the Micropur brand name. The tablet is the only purification tablet registered with the EPA and works by forming Chlorine Dioxide once dropped in the water. It is also rumored that Doctor Outdoors (a manufacturer of lotions and potions, including sun blocks) will be acquiring Atwater Carey. As for United Industries, it appears that deal is an on-again, off-again bid, with the latest info telling us that the deal is most likely off at least for the next few months. Again, no official word. Why would UI want to bid for Repel brands? To either offer another alternative to its Cutter line for the specialty market is one view, or to deep-six the line and eliminate competition would be another. We'll of course keep you posted.


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