Bridgepoint to buy Alain Afflelou

Bridgepoint has agreed to take majority control of French optical chain Alain Afflelou for just less than €500m (US$592.6m). The offer represents a premium of 22% to the closing price on the February 23, the day before the deal was announced.

Bridgepoint is offering €33 per share for the Paris-listed company and has already agreed to buy the 39% currently held by the eponymous founder and the 22% owned by private equity firm Apax Partners. On completion of the first part of the deal, Bridgepoint will offer the same amount to other shareholders followed by a compulsory squeeze-out and subsequent delisting.

Both Alain Afflelou and Apax Partners have agreed to re-invest in the private company. Afflelou will sell about two-thirds of his interest while Apax is expected to sell around half of its commitment, leaving Bridgepoint as the majority owner of the new entity.

A spokesperson for Bridgepoint said: “We are attracted by the scalability of the chain and the opportunity for a further roll-out in the home market as well as Spain. The group has a very strong marketing proposal and a strong and defensible market position.”

The group currently operates a franchise of 758 stores, which generated turnover of €121m for fiscal year 2005. As well as considerable experience with retail companies, Bridgepoint invested in Spanish optical chain Opticost in 1997 and sold it in 2001.

Apax had initially invested in Alain Afflelou in 2000 and floated the group, at a second attempt, in April 2002.