Allegheny Beverage Corp. has embarked on an ambitious acquisition program with the aid of a pioneering $125 million loan from a consortium of savings and loan associations.
Allegheny announced plans earlier this week to acquire J&J Vending, a small Lexington, Ky., vending-machine operator.
Based in Baltimore, Allegheny Beverage bottles soft drinks and runs vending- and laundry-machine operations.
The company will not say how much it paid for J&J Vending, but Allegheny Senior Vice President Harry J. Conn said the deal was relatively small compared to some of the other acquisitions the company is contemplating.
Conn said the J&J transaction is "the first in what we think will be a string of acquisitions in the food-service and laundry-service fields." He said the acquisitions will likely take place over the next 12 months.
Fifty million dollars of the $125 million loan package is earmarked for acquisitions, Conn said. Another $60 million will be used to retire existing debt, and the remainder will be used as working capital. Allegheny has 15 years to pay off the loan, which includes warrants for 1 million shares of the company's stock to be held by the S&L group that made the loan. Allegheny, which may repurchase the warrants, currently has about 4.3 million shares of stock outstanding.
Should Allegheny's stock increase during the five-year term of the warrants, the company's interest costs would be sharply reduced, said Tom Owen, chairman of Perpetual American Federal Savings & Loan Association of Alexandria, the lead S&L in the group that made the loan.
The loan is one of the first and largest to be made under recently passed legislation that allow S&Ls to make loans to businesses in addition to the traditional loan market of home mortgages.
"S&Ls typically don't get involved in large credits like this," Owen said. "It's one of the first, if not the first, major loan floated by a consortium of S&Ls."
"I believe that this is kind of a showcase loan," Conn said.
Although J&J may be one of the smaller acquisitions Allegheny makes with the money, Conn sees it as a prototype for expansion of the company's efforts in the food-service field, diversifying from beverage vending. He said J&J was particularly attractive because Lexington is "the most affluent small-town area in the country."
Yet Allegheny is particularly eager to use its new funding to expand its growing stake in the laundry-service field, which involves the operation of coin-operated washers and dryers located in apartment houses and similar locations, as opposed to laundromats.
Laundry service accounted for only 4.5 percent of the company's $453.4 million in sales last year, but that doesn't include the acquisition of companies with 70,000 washers and dryers that nearly tripled Allegheny's operations in the field. Conn said the company is likely to spend even more on acquisitions in the laundry area than in food service.