ABN AMRO buys Global Garden Products

ABN AMRO Capital has emerged as the successful bidder in the auction of Global Garden Products (GGP), which is being acquired in a secondary buyout worth €555m. The deal provides an exit for investor UBS Private Equity, which built up the company after acquiring Swedish garden product manufacturer Stiga in December 1999.

In 2000 Stiga acquired lawnmower companies Mountfield, in the UK, and Castelgarden SpA, in Italy, as well as Alpina Professional & Garden SpA, the Italian manufacturer of chain saws and brush cutters.

UBS Private Equity owned an 81% stake in the company, Grimaldi Industri 15% and management 4%. The name Stiga was ditched last year in preference of Global Garden Products, although products are still marketed under the brand names of Stiga, Mountfield, Alpina and Castelgarden.

As a result of this consolidation the company is now the largest European manufacturer of lawnmowers, gardening equipment and accessories with 1,700 employees and annual sales of €520m concentrated in France, Germany, the UK and the Nordic region. Headquartered in Milan, manufacturing facilities in Sweden and Italy also produce lawnmowers for DIY and garden centres, including Focus Wickes and B&Q in the UK, and equipment manufacturers including John Deere and Honda.

GGP was put on the market earlier this year, with Morgan Stanley running the auction. Bidders reportedly included PAI and Bain Capital. Last year UBS announced it had ceased investment activity in Europe to concentrate on managing the existing assets in its portfolio. It has since sold Dutch mobility aid company Welzorg to Industri Kapital in a tertiary buyout.

GGP’s management team, which unanimously supported ABN AMRO’s bid, will retain a stake in the business; it has reinvested a significant proportion of its sale proceeds in the buyout. Maurizio Ferrari, CEO of GGP, said: “Our strategy will centre on growing profitable market shares by extending the product range, enhancing our distribution channels, expanding into high growth territories such as Eastern Europe and Russia and exploring co-operative ventures with potential partners in the US and Asia.”

ABN AMRO Capital’s staff in Milan worked on the deal with the London office and took advice from Sopaf Corporate Finance. ABN AMRO Capital was advised by Dewey Ballantine, Milan and UBS Private Equity was advised by Mannheimer Swartling, Stockholm. The transaction is waiting for approval from the EU competition authorities.