Advent International was behind EVCJ’s Buyout Realisation of the Year 2008 through the trade sale of Axtone.
During the summer, when Lehman was on its knees and the world was suffering the effects of the credit crunch, Advent agreed the sale of Polish-based Axtone, Europe’s largest rail freight buffer manufacturer, to pan-European private equity firm IK Investment Partners, for an undisclosed sum.
Axtone is the result of the integration of Kamax, a manufacturer of rail wagon buffers with Keystone Bahntechnik, the German market leader in rail wagon buffers, crash systems and coupling devices, supplying OEMs across Europe and the Middle East. Both companies were acquired by Advent in January 2006 and the two were integrated and renamed Axtone to become Europe’s biggest company in the sector, headquartered in Kanczuga, Poland.
Axtone achieved growth in Western Europe and the emerging rail markets like Russia, Ukraine, China and India. Turnover for Kamax on acquisition was €24m and the combined companies had a turnover of €49m in 2006. Axtone anticipates turnover this year of €70m.
Monika Morali-Efinowicz, head of Advent International in Poland, said: “Together with Axtone’s management, we have implemented a successful growth programme and transformed a mid-sized Polish company into a market leader in both Eastern and Western Europe, with a developing business in the key markets of Russia, India and China. Axtone demonstrates our ability to accelerate growth in Central and Eastern European companies, particularly when that growth involves international expansion, access to new markets and technologies.”
A spokesman for Advent said at the time of the exit: “This exit marks the outcome of Advent’s successful buy-and-build strategy, establishing a leading European player. Axtone is in an excellent position to continue its international growth as concerns about pollution and road congestion advocate a shift of freight by road towards transport by rail. In addition, new safety and compliance regulations are expected to drive further investments in rail rolling stock.”
The transaction was subject to regulatory approval and was Advent’s second exit of a Polish based company in 2008. In May, Advent sold Polish insulation business Bolix to Berger Paints, one of India’s largest paint manufacturers, for US$38.6m.