Dealmaker Irwin Jacobs has sold the consumer goods remarketing arm of his Jacobs Trading Co. in Hopkins for $140 million.
Liquidity Services Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based dealer in surplus goods, is buying the unit and said the cash-and-stock deal is expected to close Oct. 1. Liquidity Services will pay an additional $30 million in 2012 and 2013 if the unit fulfills projections.
Liquidity Services said the acquisition expands its existing relationship with retail colossus Wal-Mart, and that it will retain the Jacobs Trading team running the unit. With 11 sites around the country, the unit handles returns and damaged and obsolete goods for Wal-Mart and other retailers.
Jacobs, chairman of Jacobs Trading, called the sale a win-win and said it "gives the company an opportunity to grow."
"They were interested in us four years ago -- I just wasn't interested at that time," Jacobs said.
Jacobs, who made a name years ago as a corporate raider, earning the nickname "Irv the Liquidator," is one of the Twin Cities' more colorful businessmen. Jacobs Trading is the original business that Jacobs and his father started decades ago. He and his family own more than 60 percent of the company's stock.
"This is where I started," Jacobs said of Jacobs Trading.
The remarketing unit had revenue of $65.3 million last year and adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $18.3 million. It's run by Jacobs' son-in-law Howard Grodnick, who will remain president and chief executive of Jacobs Trading.
Publicly held Liquidity Services deals with "surplus, returned and end-of-life assets" including scrap metal, idle energy equipment and retail goods. It had profits of $12 million last year on $286.8 million in sales and employs 700 people.
The purchase "will put them as the industry leader by far," Jacobs said.
Investors liked the deal. The acquiring company's stock soared 30 percent Thursday after the deal was announced, although shares drifted down a bit on Friday as a bad jobs report weighed down the markets. Shares closed Friday at $30.05, down $1.25, but jumped back to $31.30 in after-hours trading.
Jacobs Trading has 50 percent ownership in a diverse group of other companies and the sale doesn't affect those, Jacobs said.
They include boat company J&D Acquisitions; VEC Technology, a Pennsylvania company with a patented high-tech process for molding fiberglass and composites; FLW Outdoors, a fishing tournament outfit; and a sandbag business that, given this year's rainfall and flooding, has been thriving.
"It was the biggest year in our history in sandbags," Jacobs said.
Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683