BBQGuys announced Wednesday it was calling off a $963 million deal that would have led the Baton Rouge-based company to become publicly traded.

About a year after being purchased by a private equity firm, Baton Rouge-based BBQGuys is hitting the stock market through a $963 million deal with a company set up to get businesses publicly traded.

BBQGuys, an e-commerce site for high-end BBQ grills, accessories and outdoor living products, will be listed on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol BBQG. 

“When we acquired BBQGuys last year, our goal was to help supercharge its growth, and while we’re excited and proud of what we have accomplished to date there is so much opportunity ahead; we are excited to continue these efforts,” said Brand Velocity Partners, which owns BBQGuys and counts football family Archie, Cooper, Peyton and Eli Manning among its investors. 

The listing is being achieved by BBQ Holding LLC through a business combination with Velocity Acquisition Corp., a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company set up in February and designed to take other companies public.

The transaction, which is expected to close by the end of the year, valued BBQGuys at $839 million. That figure is based on a multiple of the adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization BBQGuys expects to post in 2022. The company projects EBITDA, as it's called, will be $49 million next year.

Velocity Acquisition currently has $230 million in cash in its trust account. That money will be used to invest in key growth initiatives for BBQGuys and provide additional working capital, which will add $125 million to the balance sheet.

The company generated revenue of $264 million in 2020.

The COVID pandemic has caused the barbecue market to sizzle, as consumers spent money on upgrading their homes, instead of dining out or going on vacation. Sales of grills and smokers increased by 41% for the 12-month period ending in March, topping $3.2 billion. This has led grill makers to go public. The parent company of Weber, a longtime grill manufacturer, announced last week it was filing an IPO. The company has a market valuation of $6 billion. A week before that rival grill maker Traeger said it would also file an IPO.

BBQGuys not only sells Weber and Traeger grills, but it builds its own equipment through longtime sister company Blaze and Pacific Coast Manufacturing, a California firm that makes stainless steel grill accessories. BBQGuys acquired PCM in April.

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BBQGuys’ Chief Executive Officer Russ Wheeler and the current management team will continue to lead the combined company. The company's headquarters and operations will remain in Baton Rouge and local employment is expected to "remain robust," said Michael Wolfe, a BBQGuys spokesman. About 260 people currently work for the company.

Velocity, launched by investment platform &vest, is led by Doug Jacob, its founder, and Adrian Covey, chief executive officer. Velocity is the second so-called SPAC launched by &vest. Its first SPAC was FAST Acquisition Corp., which entered an agreement to merge with Fertitta Entertainment Inc. in an $8.6 billion transaction. 

Founded in 1998, BBQGuys was acquired by private equity firm Brand Velocity Partners in August. In addition to the Mannings, high profile investors include NFL Hall of Famers LaDainian Tomlinson and Steve Hutchinson, and Hutchinson's wife, lifestyle entrepreneur Landyn Hutchinson.  

Wheeler said the company has had 43 consecutive quarters of year-over-year growth and benefitted under the ownership of Brand Velocity Partners, which has supplemented the company’s marketing and business development efforts. A marketing campaign featuring Archie and Eli Manning was launched earlier this year; a recent spot teased an appearance by Peyton Manning.

The current marketing campaign will remain in place, Wolfe said, and the impending IPO opens the door for even more creative efforts.

“It is with great excitement that we continue our partnership with BBQGuys in the next phase of its business as a public company,” said Steve Lebowitz, co-founder and managing partner at Brand Velocity Partners. “We look to partner with companies seeking to supercharge growth through not only our differentiated marketing resources, but also how we prioritize investment in the talents of their employees. We have accomplished a great amount since purchasing the company from the founders by building out BBQGuys’ management team and infrastructure, making a targeted acquisition and supercharging the marketing and investor base. We are thrilled to take the company to the next level through a combination with Velocity, and we can’t wait to contribute to the incredible growth that we believe lies ahead.”

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