Bay Area private equity firm set to purchase EP Minerals

EP Minerals, one of Reno's oldest minerals companies, agreed last week to be acquired by Golden Gate Capital, a private equity firm headquartered in San Francisco.

EP Minerals, a subsidiary of Eagle Picher Management Corporation, was founded in Reno in 1945. The company is the last subsidiary to be divested by EP Management Corp., which was formed in 2006 after Eagle Picher filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005.

"EP Minerals had been looking for the right buyer for a couple of years now, and we are really happy that Golden Gate Capital is stepping in as EP Mineral's new owner. I think it will mean good things for the company, our employees and the state of Nevada," says Dave Keselica, president of EP Minerals.

EP Minerals employs about 250, including 40 people at its headquarters on Gateway Drive in South Reno. The company employs about 340 worldwide.

EP Minerals mines diatomaceous earth at two sites in northern Nevada and one in Oregon. Diatomaceous earth is essentially composed of plankton skeletons formed in the valleys left dry when prehistoric Lake Lahontan receded. The vast lake once connected with Pyramid Lake.

The company's plant at Clark Station near the entrance to Tahoe Reno Industrial Center produces absorbents such as floor-drying products used in automotive shops to soak up oil spills, as well as a broad range of specialty products used in insecticides, paint additives and many different products.

The plant in Lovelock, the company's largest operation, produces materials used to filter foods, beer, sugar, wine, edible oils, and also in swimming pool filters.

EP Minerals is the No. 2 producer of diatomaceous earth worldwide, Keselica says, and its products are shipped to more than 100 countries.

The purchase could lead to significant growth in the company, he adds.

"It means more opportunity. The new buyers really want to invest in the business and grow it more than we have done in past, and that will lead to more opportunities for our employees and the communities we operate in. We have a nice track record of growth the last eight years, and we hope to accelerate that under new ownership."

Golden Gate Capital plans to close purchase of EP Minerals by September 2011, the company says. EP Minerals will become part of a $9 billion portfolio held by Golden Gate Capital, a portfolio that includes companies in sectors ranging from software and technology services to restaurants and consumer products.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.


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