AXA powers for FLEX

French mid-market player AXA Private Equity has backed an MBO of German power tool manufacturer FLEX Group, buying a majority stake from US firm GSO Capital Partners.

The management team, led by outgoing managing director Joerg Hempfing and incoming head Dr Josef Kring, took the remaining shares. Hempfing said: “In AXA Private Equity we have found a strong partner, who secures the management succession and will support our internationally-based growth target through its broad and well-established global network.”

FLEX make power tools for professionals and wants to extend its brand across the rest of Europe and try and penetrate the North American market – the company recently set up a sales office in the US. The company currently employs 230 and recorded a turnover of around €60m in 2006.

FLEX first powered up in 1922 in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt and was part of the Black & Decker Group before it was acquired by GSO in November 2005. GSO an investment advisor managing over US$7.5bn in hedge funds and Collateralized Loan Obligation (CLO) vehicles. It has around 115 employees working in offices in New York, London, Houston and Los Angeles.

It marks the third acquisition by the Paris-headquartered AXA Private Equity this year. The firm bought Brainsonic, a French corporate webTV portals specialist, and the following month acquired shares in Trecobat Group, a leading builder of single family houses in Brittany.

It has also made two exits in the form of fashion retailer Camaïeu to Cinven, and mobile home builder IRM to the Bénéteau group.