Palladium Equity Partners Acquires Manufacturer of La Vaquita Products, Castro Cheese Company

Sep 17, 2007, 01:00 ET from Palladium Equity Partners, LLC

    NEW YORK, Sept. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Palladium Equity Partners, LLC, a
 New York-based private equity firm, announced today that it has acquired
 Castro Cheese Company Inc., a leading manufacturer, marketer and
 distributor of Hispanic cheeses and creams. Castro Cheese is based in
 Houston and markets its products under the "La Vaquita" brand.
     Alex Ventosa, a Managing Director of Palladium, said, "The La Vaquita
 brand is well known throughout Texas for the high quality and authenticity
 of its products. Led by founder and President Maria Castro, Castro Cheese
 has established a 30-year track record of growth and development,
 maintaining the quality of their all-natural cheeses and creams while
 expanding their portfolio of branded dairy products. Castro is a profitable
 company with a strong management team and talented employees. We look
 forward to working with them to pursue expansion through new markets, new
 retails channels, and the introduction of new products."
     Maria Castro emigrated to Houston from the state of San Luis Potos�,
 Mexico, in 1971 and soon found high demand among friends and neighbors for
 her authentic Queso Fresco cheese. She converted her family's garage into a
 mini- factory, but soon expanded into larger facilities in Houston and
 incorporated Castro Cheese Company in 1977. Today, the Company is the
 second largest Hispanic cheese company in the U.S., according to
 Information Resources, Inc., and it operates in state-of-the art
 manufacturing facilities with a highly trained staff dedicated to both the
 quality of their "La Vaquita" brand products and to the family spirit that
 exists throughout the Company.
     Maria Castro, President of Castro Cheese, said, "Our Company can
 celebrate over thirty years of growth and success because we have kept our
 heritage as an Hispanic company making authentic products of the highest
 quality as a central part of everything we do. I am delighted to welcome
 Palladium, a firm with a distinctive focus on companies that serve the
 market for Hispanic products and services, as our partner. They have a
 strong track record as an investor in food businesses and are
 well-positioned to support our growth as we seek to introduce our La
 Vaquita products to a broader market while preserving the character that
 has made us successful."
     Ms. Castro will be retiring as President of the company, but will
 continue to serve as a Director and as an advisor. Palladium Operating
 Executive J. Robert Hall, an investor in food-related industries and an
 industry veteran who has served as an executive with Nabisco, Kraft and
 Nestl�, will serve as Interim CEO until a permanent CEO is identified.
     Emporia Capital Management provided senior debt.
     About Castro Cheese Company
     Founded in 1971, Castro Cheese Company ( is a
 leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of queso fresco and other
 varieties of Hispanic cheeses and creams. Castro's products are marketed
 under the La Vaquita brand in Texas and other southwestern states and are
 known for their quality, authenticity and freshness.
     About Palladium Equity Partners
     Palladium Equity Partners, LLC ( is an
 investment firm targeting companies in food/restaurants, financial and
 business services, consumer/retail, healthcare, manufacturing, and media.
 Palladium has a particular focus on companies that are well-positioned to
 capitalize on the fast-growing U.S. Hispanic market. Among other portfolio
 companies, Palladium's food industry investments include Taco Bueno, a
 leading quick- serve restaurant chain specializing in Hispanic cuisine,
 Wise Foods, maker of the Wise line of salty snacks, and Sahale Snacks,
 producer of natural and healthy gourmet snacks. The principals of Palladium
 have invested over $2.5 billion of equity in more than 50 portfolio
 companies over the last two decades. Formed in 1997, Palladium currently
 has capital under management in excess of $750 million.
     For Palladium Equity Partners
     David Lilly / Laura Walters
     Kekst and Company

SOURCE Palladium Equity Partners, LLC