Barclays and Cobalt team up

Barclays Private Equity France and Cobalt Capital have acquired Medi-Partenaires Group for around €320m. The management team, led by Frederic Dubois, has also increased its stake in the company to 28%.

Barclays and Cobalt intend to pursue a strategy of growth by acquisition, with a view to doubling the size of the company over the next five years. Gonzague de Blignieres, co-head of Barclays Private Equity and managing director, France, said the strength of the management team had strengthened the firm’s interest in the deal.

Founded in 1991, Medi-Partenaires is an operator of private acute-care hospitals in France. It recorded sales of €204m in 2004, achieving an operating margin of over 15%. The group is made up of 14 clinics in 12 towns with a capacity of 1,780 hospital, surgical and obstetrical beds. It employs 2,400 people.

JP Morgan managed the sales process. The acquisition is subject to the agreement of France’s competition and fraud prevention authority.

Barclays Private Equity has completed more than 70 deals in France and has 11 professionals dedicated to operations in French-speaking countries. Its focus in France has been on the food industry, catering, health, consumer products and engineering.

Cobalt Capital was founded in 2004 by the French team that left Legal & General Ventures led by Christophe Fercocq and Herve France. Its members carried out the Medi-Partenaires group’s first MBO in 1997, selling the company to the UHS group in 2001. Cobalt Capital invests in medium-sized French companies with annual sales of €20m to €300m.