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American Greetings sells majority stake to equity firm

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By Forrest Berkshire, Editor

American Greetings announced Tuesday it will sell a majority stake in the company to a private equity firm.

Clayton, Dubelier & Rice will acquire 60 percent of ownership in the greeting card manufacturer, according to a press release Tuesday morning.

The Weiss family, descendants of the company’s founder, will retain 40 percent. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“American Greetings is a clear market leader with a strong portfolio of valuable brands,” CD&R Partner Ken Giuriceo said in the press release. “We are very pleased to partner with the Weiss Family and American Greetings’ talented management team and to be aligned around a set of identified actions to strengthen the company’s competitive positioning and prospects for sustainable, long-term growth and profitability.”

American Greetings has a facility in Bardstown that employs about 450 people, making it one of the largest employers in the county. In January the company announced it would lay off 150 workers this year, with the first cuts set to take place in mid-March.

The cuts were related to declining demand for a line of its product after the company lost a contract to produce greeting cards sold at the discount store chain Dollar Tree.

The company is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, and generates about $1.8 billion in revenue, according to its website. It manufactures a wide assortment of paper products, including American Greetings, Carlton Cards, Gibson, Recycled Paper Greetings and Papyrus, and other paper product offerings include DesignWare party goods and American Greetings and Plus Mark gift-wrap and boxed cards. It also has several online greetings products. Tuesday’s press release said the company currently provides its products to 60,000 retail stores.

Founded in 1906, the company went public around 1969 but was taken into private ownership by the founding family in 2013. At that time, according to The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, the company employed about 6,700 full-time and 18,700 part-time workers.