Advent sells rail giant Axtone

Buyout group Advent International has agreed the sale of Polish-based Axtone, Europe’s largest rail freight buffer manufacturer to Pan-European private-equity firm IK Investment Partners, for an undisclosed sum.

Axtone is the result of the integration of Kamax, a manufacturer of rail wagon buffers with Keystone Bahntechnik, the German market-leader in rail wagon buffers, crash systems and coupling devises, supplying OEMs across Europe and the Middle East.

The combined group, renamed Axtone, created Europe’s biggest company in the sector. Axtone achieved growth in Western Europe and the emerging rail markets like Russia, Ukraine, China and India. Turnover for Kamax on acquisition was €24m and the combined companies had a turnover of €49m in 2006. Axtone anticipates turnover this year of €70m.

Detlef Dinsel, managing partner responsible for Germany and the CEE region at IK said: “Our intention is to apply IK’s successful buy-and-build strategy and capitalise in growth opportunities as rail networks are expanded and modernised in many countries.”

The transaction is still subject to regulatory approval and is IK’s first direct investment in the region and investment in the railway industry. The secondary buyout is the start of the firm’s plans to invest directly in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and the Baltic States, in addition to its operations in Benelux, France, Germany and Scandinavia. It is Advent’s second exit of a Polish based company in 2008.