CLA Advises on Sale of Catalina Finer Food Corporation to Promise Holdings

  • Preparing for transition
  • 3/16/2022
Catalina Sellside Image

CLA’s investment banking team advises on sale of manufacturer of authentic Cuban cuisine Catalina Finer Food Corporation to Promise Holdings.

Today, CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen LLP), one of the leading professional service firms in the United States, announced Catalina Finer Food Corporation (Catalina or the company), a Tampa-based manufacturer of authentic Cuban cuisine sold through consumer retail and institutional channels, has joined forces with Chicago-based Promise Holdings (Promise) to continue Catalina’s growth and expansion. CLA served as the exclusive financial advisor to Catalina on the transaction.

Catalina was founded in 1974 by Alejandro Cepero and his wife Marta R. Cepero, who brought their family from Cuba to the United States in the 1960s. Named after Alejandro’s mother, the business has been owned and operated by several generations of the Cepero family, with each of the Cepero children, Francisco and Justo, assuming leadership roles in the business. Most recently, the business was run by Alejandro and Marta’s youngest son, Justo.

Catalina’s products comprise authentic Cuban and neighboring Caribbean cuisine, including croquettes, potato balls, tamales, and yucca. Catalina’s products are sold in the consumer retail channel at leading grocers and various specialty grocers. The company also sells its products to the institutional and food service channels, primarily in its core market of South Florida. Catalina is headquartered in Tampa, Florida.

“CLA has been a long-time advisor of our business, as well as our family,” said Justo Cepero. “We have counted on them for a variety of services as our business grew. Over the years, we have come to know great work from CLA, and the sale process CLA ran was exceptional.”

Cepero continued, “There were a lot of things we wanted to accomplish with this transaction, from a family and company legacy perspective, doing right by our employees, and taking care of our customers. Only someone who took great care to learn and understand our culture, history, and business was going to be able to do a great job. CLA did.”

Promise Holdings is a private holding company formed to invest in and help operate businesses with exceptional promise and potential. Led by its founder, Gordon C.C. Liao, Promise Holdings has worked with nearly 20 businesses over the last eight years, primarily in the dynamic consumer products and services industries, with an emphasis in food and fashion and beauty. Promise and its operating team have significant experience investing in and growing food and consumer businesses. It has a focus on diversity as a core asset and differentiator to create long-term, sustainable value in its portfolio companies.

“Catalina Finer Food Corporation and its leader, Justo Cepero, is a great example of the type of company Promise Holdings loves to team with,” said Liao. “The company has been an incredibly well-run business in the Latin frozen food industry, but one that mostly has yet to be discovered by the broader market. Together with our diverse set of operating executives, we plan to grow Catalina through sales and marketing initiatives, geographic expansion, and product development. CLA helped us tremendously throughout the transaction and ran a great process.”

Steve Vasquez and the team from Foley & Lardner acted as Catalina’s trusted legal counsel on the transaction. The CLA team included Ben Axelrod, Derek Murphy, and George Kennedy of CLA Wealth Advisors. Quality of earnings advisory was led by David Laugtug and Chris Weaver of CLA. Accounting and tax advisory was led by Clint Freeman of CLA.

“The CLA team helped my management team and I through the twists and turns of the process, prepared us for discussions with possible organizations of interest, told our story in a way that would have made my family proud, and ultimately delivered a great collaboration in Gordon and Promise Holdings,” said Cepero.

CLA investment banking professionals provide sophisticated corporate finance advisory and investment banking services to lower middle-market businesses and owners. The practice’s services include mergers and acquisitions, recapitalizations, and other transaction-related advisory services.

For more information on CLA and its investment banking practice, visit

Securities products, merger and acquisition services, and wealth advisory services are provided by CliftonLarsonAllen Wealth Advisors LLC, a federally registered investment advisor and member FINRA, SIPC.

About CLA

CLA exists to create opportunities for our clients, our people, and our communities through industry-focused wealth advisory, digital, audit, tax, consulting, and outsourcing services. With nearly 9,000 people, more than 130 locations, and a global vision, we promise to know you and help you. CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen LLP) is an independent network member of CLA Global. See Investment advisory services are offered through CliftonLarsonAllen Wealth Advisors, LLC, an SEC-registered investment advisor.

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