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A clean exit for Eau Ecarlate

Switzerland-based Argos Soditic has doubled the return of its investment in French manufacturer of cleaning preparations, Eau Ecarlate when the company was sold to Barclays Private Equity in a secondary buyout transaction. Barclays Private Equity has acquired a majority stake in the company for EURO72.3 million. For Argos Soditic, the divestment represents an IRR of 76.2 per cent and is the first realisation from its Euroknights IV fund.

Argos Soditic acquired the company in September 2000 in a EURO53 million management buy-in and introduced a new CEO, Pierre Le Tanneur to the company to enhance product development. Le Tanneur boasted over 10 years’ management experience with the Benckiser group where he had developed valuable experience with French retailers and had become a consumer goods marketing specialist.

Barclays Private Equity France cited three main drivers for the secondary transaction: the reputation of the brand, the financial stability of the group and the quality of the management team.

Eau Ecarlate specialises in the manufacturing and distribution of stain removing products for textiles. In addition to the traditional liquid stain remover, the company has an extended range of products which cover all aspects of stain removal such as dry stain removers, pre-wash stain removers, special stain removers, washing enhancers.

Since it was acquired by Argos Soditic the business has increased its sales from EURO59 million to EURO79 million and its earnings before interest and tax from EURO7.7 million to EURO9.4 million. The company has expanded in Spain and the Benelux region and has also entered new market segments such as spectacle cleaners, bleach pastilles and specific deodorants. It also boasts strong market shares in most of its sectors, particularly in bleach tablets and products for eye-glasses, which have a market share of over 75 per cent.