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3i realises Wheatley Packaging

3i has sold UK-based Wheatley Packaging to Austrian paper and packaging group Frantschach for an undisclosed sum. Andrew Garside, a director at 3i, said: “We are delighted with the outcome and have more than doubled our original investment.”

The deal is only the second change in ownership for Wheatley Packaging since it was founded in 1979. The company, previously Marc Wheatley Printing, was acquired from its founder in a 3i-backed management buyout/buy-in in 1998. The business was bought out by and merged with one of its then customers, McWrap. The management team of Andrew Riley (managing director), Peter Last and Kevin Bushell will remain in place after the acquisition by Frantschach.

Wheatley Packaging employs 140 staff in the production of printed flexible packaging primarily for the frozen foods and hygiene products industries. The factory in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, supplies retailers including Tesco, Asda, Marks & Spencer, J Sainsbury and Safeway and has an annual turnover exceeding EURO24 million.

The Mondi/Anglo American Group and Frapag Industrieholding own Frantschach. Wheatley Packaging is Frantschach’s second acquisition this year, the first being Nord-westverpackung. Frantschach’s flexible packaging division produces film, paper and laminates in four factories in Austria, Hungary, Poland and Sweden. Turnover in 2001 totalled EURO62 million, while the global group turnover last year was EURO1.83 billion.

PricewaterhouseCoopers and DLA advised the vendors, Linklaters advised Frantschach.