In 2011, KKR saw promise in Capsugel, a drug capsule manufacturing company, and purchased it from Pfizer for about $2.4 billion. After significant financial success, KKR sold Capsugel to the Swedish firm Lonza for $5.5 billion.
But the story doesn’t end there. As part of the sale, $35 million of the proceeds were distributed to non-management employees. KKR has instigated this model at several of its industrial portfolios, including Capital Safety, Gardner Denver, and CHI Overhead Doors.
Thinking in terms of financial benefit for employees is the purview of KKR’s Head of Industrials Pete Stavros. Stavros is the brains behind KKR’s move to encourage portfolio companies to provide employees with stock options and other benefits—a particularly original concept for industries outside of technology.
In addition to being part of a growing trend, the move has helped Capsugel continue its profitability under Lonza, which is reporting forecasted half-year earnings of about $7.9 billion, fueled in large part by the Capsugel purchase.
Capsugel’s offerings include an innovative way to deliver liquid drugs via capsule as well as a recipe for capsule coatings that don’t use gelatin—vital for vegetarians. Additionally, according to Stavros, the company provides value by having a significant presence outside of the U.S., including in Latin America, China, and the Middle East.
These are just a few of the reasons KKR was able to sell Capsugel to Lonza at such a profit—that profit going in part to the current Capsugel employees as well as KKR and its investors. In addition to employees in the U.S., workers from Capsugel manufacturing facilities in thirteen other countries benefitted financially from the sale.
“Capsugel was a terrific outcome, not only in terms of financial results for our fund investors, but also in the way we and the management team and all of the company’s employees partnered together to really drive a transformation of the company,” said Stavros. “In our industrial manufacturing companies, we have endeavored to give everyone an opportunity to participate in the benefits of ownership of their business, as we believe it drives a higher level of engagement, which can drive break-out results. Capsugel is a great example of that.”