Candover takes Alma in secondary

Candover, a listed European buyout firm, has carried out a secondary buyout of Alma Consulting Group, a French cost reduction and tax recovery service, from global private equity investor Apax Partners and French mid-market finance house Chequers Capital.

No price was disclosed for the acquisition, Candover’s eighth from its €3.5bn (US$5.13bn) Candover 2005 Fund, which is approximately 57% drawn down following this transaction. Alma management re-invested a significant proportion of their proceeds to take a stake in the new structure. Debt financing was provided by RBS.

Candover was advised by UBS, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Deloitte and Taj. Apax was advised by Weil Gotshal & Manges, management by White & Case, LSL and LSK.

The sale represents a relatively fast turnaround for Apax, which bought into Alma Consulting in early 2006, acquiring a 30% stake from Chequers Capital backed by €308m of debt from RBS.

Founded in 1986, Alma provides cost savings services to help clients recover excess social charges and tax payments, save money on general operating and administrative charges, as well as pensions and healthcare, and obtain innovation tax credits and R&D subsidiaries.

According to Candover, the group serves more than 10,000 corporate clients, including 60% of France’s top 200 companies. Turnover for 2006 was €153m – with 2007 predictions of €180m – significantly up on the €100m turnover reported for 2005 when Apax joined the company’s investor base.

Mark Eisenberg, founding chairman and CEO of Alma, said that the partnership with Apax had enabled the group to strengthen and diversify the service offering in France and promote international development.

Bertrand Finet, director of Candover in France, said: “Complex and ever changing legal, tax and market environments, and a success-based fee model, make their proposition very attractive to clients.”

Chequers Capital spun out of London and Paris-based private equity firm Charterhouse Capital Partners in 2002.