News Article | 5/9/2005

Hillwood, Helen of Troy Cut $50M Deal

SOUTHHAVEN, MS-Helen of Troy, the El Paso-based maker of hair care appliances, tools and accessories has cut a $50-million deal with Dallas-based Hillwood for the development of a new distribution facility here and the disposition of its existing facility here.

Hillwood has agreed to develop a 1.2-million-sf distribution facility on 60 acres within the DeSoto Trade Center here and then sell the whole thing to Helen of Troy for $32.9 million. As part of that same deal, Hillwood has agreed to a put option that, if exercised, will require it to purchase Helen of Troy’s existing 600,000-sf facility here for $16 million, according to SEC documents. In addition, Hillwood has granted Helen of Troy an option to acquire` an additional 31 acres adjacent to its new building site for $1.6 million.

The doubling of its distribution capacity in Southaven is to accommodate the distribution needs of a newly acquired company, OXO International, which makes tools for the kitchen. Helen of Troy says it will spend $12 million on fixtures and equipment for its new distribution facility above and beyond the cost of its development by Hillwood.

The put option could require Hillwood to acquire Helen of Troy’s existing facility anytime from 30 to 180 days after Helen of Troy acquires the new facility. Hillwood has agreed to complete the facility within 195 days from May 2, the day the agreement became effective. The per day penalty for being late is $3,500 for the first 15 days after the required completion date and $5,000 per day thereafter, up to $900,000, according to the agreement.

Adin Brown and Will Brown of Sonny Brown Associates LLC represented Helen of Troy in the transaction. Hillwood had in-house representation.

Helen of Troy’s development site is part of a 450-acre expansion of the DeSoto Trade Center. The original 218-acre tract, which Hillwood purchased in 2001, is designed for five buildings totaling four million sf but currently only holds two buildings totaling 1.2 million sf. Hillwood is working on the expansion with the landowner, College Road Land Company, which consists of members of the Freeburg, Keesee and Hull families. The families have owned 600 acres on the west side of Interstate 55 just north of Star Landing Road for many decades. In addition to the 450 acres that are part of the Hillwood partnership, College Road Land Co. is reserving 150 acres for retail development.