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The Boston Globe

Business

Private equity firm buys Haverhill pasta maker

A Connecticut private equity firm, Brynwood Partners, has acquired Joseph’s Pasta Co., a 23-year-old Haverhill company that makes frozen pasta and sauces.

Brynwood Partners, of Greenwich, Conn., purchased Joseph’s through an investment fund from Nestlé Prepared Foods Co., which has owned the pasta maker since 2006. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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“We’re really excited to have acquired the Joseph’s business, and we look forward to investing in the company and putting it on a growth track,” said Henk Hartong, senior managing partner at Brynwood Partners.

Joseph’s makes more than 300 varieties of frozen pastas and sauces, most of which is sold at wholesale to restaurants. The company employs more than 300 workers at a 150,000-square-foot plant in Haverhill.

Hartong said the company will retain the plant and its workers but hopes to ramp up production and expand the business into grocery stores.

“We want to stay true to the company’s fundamentals as a a first-class provider to the food-service industry,” Hartong said. “We think we can also complement that with some opportunities in retail channels.”

The food plant is the private equity firm’s second in Massachusetts. Brynwood bought LightLife Foods, a Turner Falls company that makes soy-based vegetarian burgers and hot dogs, in August.

The acquisition of Joseph’s continues the private equity firm’s trend of buying aging brands.

Brynwood’s strategy is to acquire and revitalize underperforming or small brands that have been overshadowed in large companies.

It often creates holding companies for the brands, which in the Joseph’s deal is called JPC Acquisition Co., and then inserts a management team to concentrate on expanding the business, Hartong said.

“We’re able to focus the attention on the brand that it has a hard time getting as part of a larger company,” he said.

The firm has recently taken advantage of Nestlé’s decision to divest itself of its underachieving brands.

The deal marks its fifth acquisition from the food giant and the second in a year. Brynwood acquired the Bit-O-Honey confectionery brand from Nestlé in May through one of its portfolio companies, Pearson Candy Co.

Over the years, it has invested in more than 40 brands and currently owns companies that make Turtles chocolates, Back to Nature natural foods, and Zest soap.

Brynwood closed the Joseph’s deal through its $400 million Brynwood VII fund, its newest and largest fund to date.

Taryn Luna can be reached at taryn.luna@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @tarynluna.

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