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Solo Cup Manufacturer Acquired for $1 billion

Byrne Hobart

Solo Cup Co., whose flagship red plastic cups are a cultural icon, has been acquired by Dart Container  Corporation for around $1 billion. Solo Cup Co., with $1.6 billion in annual revenue, is best known for its popular red plastic cups — co-stars of low-budget parties, low-stakes drinking games, and even a popular country anthem.

Both Solo Cup and Dart Container are privately held. Solo Cup's former owners, private equity firm Vestar  Partners, bought the company in 2004, but ran into trouble after buying Sweatheart, another competing cup company, the same year.

Dart Container is also privately held — controlled by Kenneth and Robert Dart, whose renunciation of their US citizenship and subsequent move to the Cayman Islands has led to a long-running squabble with the IRS.

It's not the first time the worlds of solo cups and high finance have collided. In 2010, a 19-year-old entrepreneur filed a prospectus with the SEC to raise money for a beer pong table manufacturer. While the venture floundered and the young founder exited the company, his prospectus lives on in the SEC's website. Amid a description of the business's assets (minimal) and prospects (dubious), there are photos and diagrams of the company's tables. And each picture features the infamous red Solo cups.