Apax exits Swedish healthcare business

UK buyouts giant Apax has sold its controlling stake in Molnlycke Health Care Group of Sweden to fellow private equity players Investor AB and Morgan Stanley Principal Investments for €2.85bn.

Investor will acquire a 65% share of the company when the deal is completed, which works out at €620m of equity capital and shareholder loans. The Swedish investment company fought off rival bids from Blackstone and Clayton Dubilier & Rice to secure the deal. Return details were not disclosed, but a figure of 8x the original amount invested has been suggested.

Mölnlycke makes and markets single-use wound care and surgical products for the professional health care sector. Its purchase by Investor AB is a realisation of a buy-and-build strategy Apax started back in 2003. In that year the healthcare team of the London-headquartered outfit identified the potential to be made from merging the wound care and surgical businesses owned by SSL International, the UK manufacturer and distributor of healthcare products, with the wound care and surgical business that was Mölnlycke.

Apax acquired SSL’s wound care division in March 2004 – and renamed it Medlock Medical – and its surgical gloves arm – Regent Medical – a few months later in June. Molnlycke, previously owned by Nordic Capital, was acquired following an auction in June 2005, and the three businesses were merged that summer.

The company now holds a top three market position in the European advanced wound care market and is the leading European single-use surgical products provider, with production facilities in Asia and Europe, selling into Europe and North America.

Ian Jones, partner and head of the healthcare team at Apax, said: “This has been a very successful deal for all involved and exemplifies the Apax Partners strategy. Our knowledge of the healthcare sector allowed us to identify a consolidation opportunity in the consumable medical products area, and we are proud to have helped create this unique group. The success of the strategy is due to the hard work and dedication of the management team and employees, and the company is now a global leader in its space.”

Mölnlycke Health Care began life in its original form in 1997 when Nordic Capital acquired and merged the clinical division of Swedish SCA and Finnish Tamro’s Kolmiset division.