Former Natty Boh owner takes stake in Utz

Utz Quality Foods, the potato chip maker in Hanover, Pa., has received an investment from Metropoulos & Co., a private equity firm that once owned the National Bohemian.

Nevermind those wedding bells; in reality, it looks like Mr. Boh and his perennial partner, the Utz girl, are more like friends of friends.

Their common bond is Metropoulos & Co., a family-owned investment firm, which sold National Bohemian two years ago and on Wednesday announced a stake in Utz Quality Foods. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Wall Street Journal reported the investment was more than $146 million.


Metropoulos, like Baltimore, has a taste for classic food brands. Its portfolio has included Aunt Jemima, Bumble Bee Foods, Chef Boyardee, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Vlasic and Hostess Brands, which this summer said it would go public.

It sold Pabst Brewing Co., which owns the National Bohnemian brand, in 2014 to TSG Consumer Partners, a San Francisco private equity firm, for $750 million.


The investment from Metropoulos was used to finance Utz's acquisition of Alabama-based Golden Enterprises, which owns the Golden Flake brand of chips and pork rinds. Utz finalized that deal on Oct. 3.

The Rice family will retain its majority ownership of the Hanover, Pa.-based salty snack company.

"Under the family's strong stewardship, Utz has quietly grown into a snack powerhouse, expanding its product portfolio and geographic reach, while remaining true to its core beliefs and storied history," said Evan Metropoulos, principal of Metropoulos & Co. "We are delighted to unite our talents, under a shared respect for great American entities, to celebrate and build upon the brand's legacy, while helping to chart an exciting course forward."

Despite its Keystone State address, the 95-year-old Utz business is a chip off the Baltimore block. Founders Bill and Salie Utz headed to the city's Lexington and Cross Street markets to sell their wares when the company began and a spokeswoman for the firm said it's the leading chip brand in the Baltimore market.

The Golden Enterprises acquisition is the latest in a string of deals for Utz, which expects to generate $800 million in sales next year.