Candover makes RIM sale

Candover has realised its investment in Regional Independent Media. The regional media group has been sold to Johnston Press in a deal worth GBP560 million, creating one of the UK’s largest regional newspaper publishing groups. The transaction generates a return of around two times Candover’s original investment. RIM was Candover’s first investment from its 1997 fund and marks the fourth realisation from that fund. The sale of RIM will result in an increase of 10 pence per share in the net asset value of Candover.

Candover led the acquisition of RIM, formerly UPN Holdings, the Northern newspaper interests of United News & Media in 1998, committing a total of GBP55 million to the company. Total value of the deal was GBP360 million, of which GBP111 million was equity. The sale also provides an exit for Goldman Sachs which held a 30 per cent stake and Alpinvest which held the remaining 20 per cent. Since the buyout, RIM has grown to become one of the leading regional newspapers in the UK with a portfolio of 53 titles. RIM’s turnover in the year to December 31, 2001 reached GBP175.3 million.

Colin Buffin, Candover’s managing director, said: “RIM was Candover’s second deal in the regional press sector, following the buyout of Midland Independent Newspapers (MIN) in 1991, and the second time we have backed Chris Oakely, who had also led the original MIN buyout.”

Earlier this year Candover and HgCapital celebrated the sale of PII Group to GE Power Systems. Candover originally invested in November 1999 to enable PII to acquire German-based Pipetronix. Candover returned in excess of two times its original investment on the sale.

Candover is currently fund raising for its 2001 Fund which has raised EURO1.8 billion and is set to close this summer on EURO2.5 billion, bringing Candover’s total funds under management to EURO5 billion. This is the lower end of its target, which had an upper limit of EURO3 billion. The first investment from the fund is the CHF580 million acquisition of Swissport, a global ground handling business, completed at the beginning of this year.