Utz is in the chips as public dips into first day of trading

CEO of celebrated snack company presents 'game plan' after SPAC offering

After seeing his company's stock soar more than 12% Monday when it began trading, Utz Brands CEO Dylan Lissette said the company’s plan to go public was in the works long before special purpose acquisition companies became a hot trend on Wall Street.

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Best known for its potato chips, the venerable snack brand held its first day of public trading on Monday following a reverse merger with Collier Creek Holdings, a SPAC co-founded by former Kraft Foods CEO Roger Deromedi. Lissette said the involvement of executives with proven track records such as Deromedi, who became chairman of Utz Brands, was a critical factor in the family-owned company’s decision to go public.

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“What we really liked about it were the people and the game plan that they had executed in the past and how that might add value to our company,” Lissette said during an appearance on FOX Business Network.

SPACs have gained popularity on Wall Street in recent months as a means of taking a company public without the traditional initial public offering process. Sports betting firm DraftKings began public trading through a reverse merger earlier this year.

SPACs raise money through an IPO and then use the proceeds to fund mergers with companies looking to go public. Collier Creek held its IPO in 2018 at $10 per share.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
UTZUTZ BRANDS, INC.17.00-0.10-0.58%

Utz's stock opened at $18.95, up from Collier Creek's last close of $16.34 last Friday and closed at $18.40 on Monday -- good for a 12.61% gain for the day. The company expects to generate net sales of $932 million this year.

The Rice and Lissette families, the longtime owners of Utz Brands, still own more than 50 percent of the company. Lissette said the families’ continued involvement should give investors confidence about the company’s long-term direction.

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“For someone who’s looking at investing in the brand, I would feel very comfortable and very happy to know that we’re retaining such a large stake in the company so that we can continue the magic that we’ve really worked on for just short of the last 100 years,” Lissette said.

Lissette said Utz took immediate steps to alter its operations when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, with an emphasis on workplace safety measures such as social distancing and personal protective equipment. The company has operated during the pandemic without a major impact to its business.

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One of Utz’s staple snacks remains one of its top-sellers.

“The potato chips have been, really, through the pandemic for whatever reason. The potato chips have been really on fire,” Lissette said.

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