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First deal for Hicks Holdings

28 Nov 2005

Hicks Holdings, the new Dallas-based family office of Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst co-founder Thomas O Hicks has done its first private equity deal, acquiring liquid crystal display manufacturer Ocular LCD.

Hicks Holdings, LLC, the Dallas-based, family-owned private investment enterprise headed by Thomas O. Hicks, has announced that it has acquired Ocular LCD, Inc., a designer, manufacturer and marketer of liquid crystal displays, modules and systems.

Headquartered in Richardson, Texas, Ocular’s main manufacturing facility is in Guang Dong Province in China. Ocular was founded in 1986 by Ben Kwong, president and chief executive officer, and Larry Mozdzyn, executive vice president, who will now own what they describe as a ‘significant minority stake’ while continuing to manage the business.

The transaction, financial terms of which were not disclosed, is Hicks Holdings’ first corporate acquisition since its formation in January 2005 as a holding company for the Hicks family’s Texas Rangers Baseball Club, Dallas Stars Hockey Club, real estate, and other assets and activities.

Hicks, chairman and chief executive officer of Hicks Holdings and before that co-founder and chairman of Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Incorporated, said, “Since I and my family formed Hicks Holdings earlier this year following my retirement from Hicks Muse, we have been primarily engaged in overseeing the management of our sports teams; real estate development projects including Victory Park – a seventy-five-acre, mixed-use development project in downtown Dallas – in partnership with Hillwood Capital; planning the future development of a new urban town center adjacent to both Ameriquest Field in Arlington and the new football stadium being built there by the Dallas Cowboys; and planning a forty-acre mixed-use development surrounding Dr Pepper/Seven-Up Ballpark in Frisco, Texas. With this transaction, we are broadening our investment program to also include corporate acquisitions, and Ocular–a company with an excellent track record, strong leadership and significant growth potential – is a great way to begin.”

Ocular designs, manufactures and markets passive and active liquid crystal displays, which it sells in panels, modules and complete systems to 150 customers in industries including industrial controls, medical devices, recreational and fitness equipment, retail/POS equipment, office automation equipment, communications hardware and consumer electronics.

Ben Kwong commented on the deal, “It has been nearly twenty years since Larry Mozdzyn and I co-founded Ocular with a $1,000 investment, in Larry’s garage, and began building Ocular into the successful enterprise we have been ever since. This transaction is an opportunity for both of us to realize the value of that enterprise, while retaining a significant ownership stake in the business. From a strategic standpoint it is especially relevant, at Ocular’s current growth stage, to team up with a seasoned partner like Tom Hicks to help maximize the growth potential of the company. We are delighted to partner with Tom and his colleagues at Hicks Holdings, and look forward to continuing to run and build Ocular and serve its rapidly growing customer base, both in North America and around the world, for many years to come.”

Hicks previously co-founded, and from 1984 to 1989 was co-chairman and co-chief executive officer of, Hicks & Haas, Inc., the Dallas-based private equity firm whose investments encompassed A&W Brands, Dr Pepper/Seven Up Companies, Sybron International Corporation and Thermadyne Corporation.

In 1989, Mr. Hicks co-founded, and until January 2005 served as chairman of, Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Incorporated, also serving from 1989 to 2001 as chief executive officer and thereafter as a member of the management committee.

During Hicks’ tenure, HMTF raised $12bn of private equity funds and clocked up $50bn of leveraged acquisitions. Acquisitions by HMTF under his watch included, among others, Berg Electronics, Capstar Broadcasting, Chancellor Media, DESA International, International Home Foods, Life Partners Group, Pinnacle Foods, Trident NGL, Triton Energy and Yell Group plc, plus significant ownership stakes in Clear Channel Communications and LIN Television.

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