Utah-based MonaVie faces foreclosure after spectacular rise and fall

Failure • Nutritional juice marketer defaulted on $182 million note; Florida company set to take over.

In a spectacular failure, a Florida company is foreclosing on Utah-based MonaVie Inc. after the marketer of nutritional fruit juice and personal care products defaulted on a $182 million note.

But a South Dakota bank has gone to court to seek a halt to the foreclosure while it sorts out what happened to the once high-flying company. MonaVie had a rocket ride to approach $1 billion in annual sales, only to now have a dramatic crash that will wipe out all shareholder value in the South Jordan company.

According to court documents, MonaVie sold a note to TSG-MV Financing LLC, part of TSG Consumer Partners of San Francisco, in November of 2010 for $182 million, secured by “virtually all of the assets” of the company. TSG had previously provided capital to MonaVie.

But, with the company apparently struggling financially, MonaVie in July 2014 announced the retirement of founders Dallin Larsen, Randy Larsen and Henry Marsh.

In March, Jeunesse Global LLC of Altamonte Springs, Fla., purchased the note from TSG, court documents say. Like MonaVie, Jeunesse Global is a multilevel marketing company that sells personal care and nutritional products to independent distributors who are encouraged to recruit new distributors. They, in turn, recruit others and earn commissions on sales to distributors through various levels of the network.

A news release by Jeunesse characterized the deal as an acquisition of MonaVie but did not disclose the note it bought from TSG-MV. MonaVie Chairman and CEO Mauricio Bellora, who had replaced founder Dallin Larsen in January 2013, characterized the deal as “an exciting step forward for MonaVie and our distributors.”

Then on Wednesday, Bellora told shareholders that MonaVie was in default on the note and the board intended to agree to a “strict foreclosure.” That meant MonaVie would voluntarily transfer “substantially all” of its assets to Jeunesse, Bellora said in the message, which is part of the record in a federal court lawsuit in Salt Lake City.

Now, the Bankers Trust of South Dakota, the trustee over the company’s employee stock ownership program (ESOP), has asked U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins for a temporary restraining order that would halt the foreclosure.

A hearing is set for Monday.

Bankers Trust said procedures for carrying out a strict foreclosure had not been followed.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of employees who were part of the ESOP. The proposed class action lawsuit says MonaVie principals sold shares valued at $186 million to an ESOP they had created in 2010 but that the company shares quickly fell nearly 100 percent in value.

The lawsuit alleges Bankers Trust failed to fulfill its duties as trustee of the program by allowing MonaVie to sell shares at a highly inflated value using a loan carrying an exorbitant interest rate.

Bankers Trust has turned around and sued MonaVie, alleging it was failing to pay the bank’s legal bills as their agreements require.

Dallin Larsen was named an Ernest & Young entrepreneur of the year in 2009. From its start in 2005, MonaVie grew to $854 million in revenue in 2008 and had recruited 1 million distributors, Larsen said at the time.

Neither MonaVie nor Jeunesse returned emails seeking comment.

tharvey@sltrib.com