Barclays Private Equity gets busy

Barclays Private Equity has got off to a roaring start investing its newly closed fund, with three announced acquisitions in the past two weeks.

First off, French transport systems group Parkeon, bought by Barclays Private Equity in April for €260m, has purchased UK bus fare systems provider Wayfarer.

Headquartered in Poole in the UK, Wayfarer designs, manufactures and services fully integrated fare revenue collection systems covering 80% of the UK bus network. It made £17.2m in sales last year. It was sold to management by listed group Meggitt in 2002 for £15m.

Parkeon chief executive Yves Chambeau said: “Our complementary strengths position us at the forefront of the industry for innovative solutions that can be used across all forms of public transport.”

Wayfarer chief executive Tony McNamara said: “In combination, we will be the global leader for integrated transport ticketing and have the investment, innovation and R&D capacity needed for sustained growth.”

Chambeau added: “We also gain a valuable market position, particularly in London, as the UK gears up its mass transit projects in view of the 2012 Olympics.”

Barclays bought Parkeon from Apax France, which had acquired the business from US services group Schlumberger in 2003.

According to Parkeon, its systems are installed in the public transport networks of the 50 largest US cities as well as in 39 other countries. It made €140m revenues last year. Baird advised Wayfarer on the deal.

Barclays also backed a £75.5m (€108.2m) management buyout of Hydrasun, a Scottish oil and gas services company.

Aberdeen-based Hydrasun provides oil and gas companies with fluid connectors, hoses, fittings, instrumentation, process control products and other services. The company also has operations in Holland and Azerbaijan.

Bob Drummond, chief executive of Hydrasun, said: “International development and broadening and developing our service offering has been and will continue to be core to our strategy of becoming a valued service partner to companies in the oil and gas sector.” Barclays Leveraged Finance provided senior debt.

The third deal saw Barclays acquire the majority of the share capital of PREMIUMcommunications, previously known as Cyberline Group, for an undisclosed sum. Headquartered in Tägerwilen in the Swiss canton of Thurgau, PREMIUMcommunications provides multilingual services in tech support, user helpdesks, outbound and inbound services and services for SMEs.

The business is expecting revenues of SFr80m (€48m) in 2007, its sixth year of operation. The private equity firm will maintain the current management but is expected to expand its business model and geographic presence, which includes sites in Zurich, Lausanne, Mendrisio and Krefeld.

BPE closed its third European Fund, Barclays Private Equity European Fund III, at €2.4bn last month. It is a significant step up from its predecessor, which raised €1.56bn in 2005.

The entire sum of the new fund was raised by existing investors, including fund of funds managed by Allianz Private Equity Partners, LGT Capital Partners, Morley Fund Management, Pantheon Ventures, Standard Life Investments and SVG Advisors, as well as a €650m contribution from debt arm Barclays Capital.

The firm was founded in 1979 and has 45 investment professionals in eight offices around the world. Since 1998 it has had a presence in Germany and since 2006 in Switzerland, and its portfolio currently includes more than 50 companies.

Sandrine Bradley