AEA Rides Industrials Buying Spree

Target: Bishop Lifting Products Inc.

Sponsor: AEA Investors

Seller: David J. Bishop

The New York-based firm will be making the investment out of its AEA Investors Small Business fund II LP, a $350 million fund raised in 2010 that targets deals that are smaller than that sought by the firm’s main buyout fund, the $1.7 billion AEA Private Equity 2006 Fund.

The seller is listed in the filing as David J. Bishop, the company’s CEO.

Founded in 1984, the company makes slings, lifting devices, wire rope, rigging hardware and other equipment used in the aerospace, construction and manufacturing sectors, among others. It employs more than 200 in locations in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Oklahoma and Wyoming, according to the company’s Web site.

Executives at AEA and Jeff Bishop, the company’s president, did not respond by deadline to calls seeking comment.

The industrials sector has been the most popular area of investment for buyout firms this year, as sponsors delve into more cyclical investments ahead of an economic recovery, albeit a slow one. As of June 12, sponsors had closed 41 deals in the industrials sector in the second quarter, more than 20 percent of a total of 204 control-stake deals by U.S. based sponsors, according to data from Thomson Reuters analyzed by editors at Buyouts. The industrials sector was the most popular for investment in the first quarter as well, the first time it had taken the top spot since 2009.

AEA Investors is a frequent investor in the industrials sector. According to Thomson One, the Industrials/Energy sector has produced 23 percent of the firm’s investments, the second most popular field behind Medical/Health, at 28 percent. The firm also targets deals in the consumer products, specialty chemicals and services sectors.