Consortium buys into Italian glass

A private equity consortium has agreed to pay €375m (US$452.4m) for Italy-based industrial glass manufacturer Seves Group, which was formerly known as Vetroarredo Sediver.

The consortium comprises Ergon Capital Partners, a €150m mid-market buyout firm set up by Groupe Bruxelles Lambert and Parcom Ventures; US-based buyout firm Vestar Capital Partners; and Athena Private Equity, an Italian buyout fund backed by Mediobanca.

Vestar and Ergon are co-leads in the non-auctioned deal, with Athena reinvesting as a partner on the transaction.

The vendors include Athena, alongside Italian financial institutions Fidia, Intek and Interbanca and UK-listed private equity firm 3i. Management, led by Luciano Zottola, chairman, and Enrico Basso, chief executive, will remain investors in Seves.

Headquartered in Florence, Seves makes glass insulators for high and medium-power transmission and distribution systems and glass blocks for architectural and interior designers. In 2003, it had a turnover of about €195m, although it is now growing at more than 10% per year, according to a deal source.

The company employs about 2,000 people and operates 10 production facilities (three in Italy, four in China, and one each in Germany, the Czech Republic and Brazil).

Robert Rosner, president of Vestar, sees the company as ideally placed to profit from its position in the fast-growing Chinese market as well as pursue further acquisitions. “In terms of organic growth, Seves has three manufacturing facilities in China, which will enable it to participate in the explosive infrastructure growth taking place there,” he says.

“Management is also keen on continuing to grow through acquisitions,” Rosner adds. “Since the late 1990s, the company has completed six acquisitions each time expanding its geographic footprint and product lines. The company is quite interested in continuing to expand its footprint and is studying opportunities in Europe and in the US.”

Seves was formed from the 2002 acquisition by Vetroarredo of Sediver and completed its original management buyout of Fidenza Vetroarredo in March 1997.

Legal advisers to the private equity firms were Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners, Labruna Mazziotti Segni and Kirkland & Ellis. Legal adviser to the selling shareholders was Simmons & Simmons.

Fineurop Soditic acted as sole financial adviser to the investors. Debt financing will be provided by BNP Paribas, Banca Intesa and ING.