Barclays builds coffee pump champion

Barclays Private Equity, from its Milan office, has acquired Italian specialist coffee pump maker ULKA Costruzioni Elettromeccaniche. This follows its acquisition of fluid control component maker CEME, which it purchased in September 2005 from private equity fund Europe Capital Partners IV.

The combined group will have aggregate pro forma revenues of approximately €100m for 2005. Barclays’ strategy is to target the growing coffee machine sector by building a group that supplies pumps and fluid control components.

Emanuele Cairo, managing director of Barclays Private Equity’s Milan office, says the consumption of espresso coffee has been growing in double-digit figures, with further expansion expected from the revolutionary use in machines of coffee capsules instead of granules. Such is the growth in the coffee machine market that just prior to the closing of the ULKA deal, Coca-Cola announced that it was to enter the coffee market.

Negotiations for the acquisition of ULKA, which has been purchased from entrepreneur Giampiero Rossi for an undisclosed sum, were started immediately after the purchase of CEME in September 2005.

Cairo describes ULKA as being on a fantastic footing, a “competitor with a different manufacturing strategy” and therefore complementary. Whereas CEME has a vertically integrated process of manufacturing its components, which it sells to diversified clients (including makers of steam ironing and cleaning equipment, and air conditioning), ULKA concentrates on producing coffee pumps and makes heavy use of outsourcing and sub-contracting.

Marco Boraso, who led the management buyout of CEME and was formerly with General Electric and Zanussi-Electrolux, will be managing director of the combined CEME-ULKA group.