3i makes 3.4x return on Williams Lea deal

Williams Lea, the UK based reprographic business, has been bought by Deutsche Post in a £253m deal, representing an exit for minority stakeholder 3i. Deutsche Post has bought a 75% share in the company, including 3i’s minority stake, which was sold for £110m, representing a return of 3.4x on the original investment and an IRR of 83%. The deal also includes an option for Deutsche Post to purchase the remaining stake in the company after three years.

Williams Lea, which is document management outsourcing provider in over 400 locations across the world, received £20m of growth capital from 3i in March 2004 in order for the company to secure longer-term contracts and make acquisitions.

At the same time, 3i paid £14m for a minority stake of 38%. Shortly after this investment, Williams Lea acquired Browne Business Solutions, its US joint venture partner. In 2005 it bought Uniscribe, another US business process outsourcing provider, and Creatis, an Australian marketing communication and design services provider.