Alcontrol sale promises good result for Bridgepoint

Bridgepoint stands to collect nearly four times the value of its investment in Alcontrol, the laboratory testing services group. The firm paid £70m for the business when it was acquired from Kelda four years ago. The latest reports suggest Alcontrol may now sell for up to £240m to Candover. ABN AMRO Capital, Warburg Pincus and Apax were among the other firms bidding for Alcontrol.

Bridgepoint has been one of the most active buyout firms this year and is expected to raise a circa €2bn fund next year. The firm has also just announced that it will sell Opus Holdings, another portfolio company, to global insurance broker Willis Group. That represents the firm’s 11th exit this year and follows on from Dennis Eagle and Western Wines.

Buyouts in the year to-date stand at six. Bridgepoint has also been touted as a potential bidder for eBookers, the online travel group that tried, unsuccessfully, to link up with Expedia. Ebookers was approached by a number of potential suitors in September. It reported a pre-tax loss of £1.9m for the three months to end-September, compared with £3.2m a year earlier. The group described fourth-quarter trading as satisfactory.

Candover’s 2001 Fund recently made its 12th investment, with the acquisition of Bureau van Dijk Electronic Publishing (BvD), an electronic publisher of business information. Its fund raised a total of €2.7bn at its final closing in June 2002. Its global investor base comprises pension funds, endowments and institutional investors, many of which have invested in prior Candover funds.