CHICAGO, May 30 -- J.W. Childs Equity Partners II L.P. Tuesday completed its purchase of the NutraSweet Co. from Monsanto for $440 million in cash.
NutraSweet's 500 employees were all offered employment with the new company, which will be headed by former Monsanto Senior Vice President Nick E. Rosa.
The sale includes the NutraSweet brand name, sweetener business and a new artificial sweetener called neotame.
"We are please about adding the NutraSweet Co. to our portfolio of food and beverage companies," said Tim Healy, managing director of J.W. Childs, a Boston-based private investment company. "The high-intensity sweetener is the fastest-growing segment of the global sweetener industry."
Healy, who along with Rosa was part of the team that launched NutraSweet 19years ago, will be chairman of the NutraSweet Co.
Monsanto is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Pharmacia Corp.
NutraSweet is the market leader in the $1.1 billion global sweetener market and is used daily by an estimated 250 million people in more than 100 countries. Neotame is a new calorie-free sweetener that tastes more like natural sugar but is 40 times sweeter than NutraSweet and 8,000 times sweeter than sugar.
"The NutraSweet Co. revolutionized the sweetener industry in 1981 with the introduction of aspartame and we intend to do it again with neotame when we receive approval from various regulatory agencies around the world," said Rosa.
J.W. Childs Associates L.P. has equity interests in General Nutrition Centers, Ghirardelli Chocolate Co., Empire Kosher Poultry and Chevys "Fresh Mex Mexican restaurant chain.