Chicago Firm Said To Be Near $200M Exit

The Chicago buyout shop Wynnchurch Capital Ltd. is near an exit on its three-year investment in Henniges Automotive Inc., according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Wynnchurch Capital has entered a “period of exclusivity” with an unnamed potential buyer for Henniges, a Farmington Hills, Mich.-based maker of sealing systems for the global automotive market, one source said. Another source estimated that Henniges, with $40 million EBITDA, would fetch 5x, putting the enterprise value of the deal at around $200 million.

Ian M. Kirson, a managing director at Wynnchurch Capital, said in a brief telephone conversation that the firm had not sold the portfolio company, but he was unavailable to comment further.

Wynnchurch Capital, of Rosemont, Ill., bought the North American operations of Metzeler Automotive Profile Systems in September 2007, acquiring a maker of systems for sealing vehicle doors, windows, sunroofs and hoods. In December 2007, the firm also bought GDX Automotive, a rival maker of sealing systems and glass encapsulation products for the automotive sector, from Cerberus Capital Management.

The combination of the two companies created the No. 1 supplier of vehicle sealing systems in North America and the No. 2 supplier worldwide, Wynnchurch Capital says on its Web site. Wynnchurch Capital said it named the combined company Henniges, using GDX Automotive’s most recognized brand, which dates back to 1951.

John Hatherly, an executive in GE Capital’s Merchant Banking Group, founded Wynnchurch Capital in 1999 along with Richard Renaud. The firm operates primarily in the midwestern United States and Canada, and focuses on niche manufacturing, value-added distribution, transportation, logistics, energy, power services, and business and industrial services.

The firm began fundraising more than a year ago for Wynnchurch Capital Partners III LP, a planned $500 million followup to its Wynnchurch Capital Partners II LP, which closed in December 2005 with capital commitments of $350 million, ahead of a $300 million target.