Deals round-up: PRIVATE EQUITY – Apax’s vision for Alain Afflelou

The eponymous founder chairman of the Alain Afflelou optical retail chain, one of France’s foremost distributors of spectacles and optical products, has regained control of the company through a secondary buyout led by Apax Partners & Cie. The deal, announced at the beginning of May, valued the company at FFr 900 million (EURO137 million).

Before the Apax buyout, Alpha Associes and Marine Wendel held some 70 per cent of the company following a 1997 buyout. Alain Afflelou has increased his holding from 30 per cent to 58 per cent via the Apax buyout. Apax invested for a 31 per cent stake, taking a further eight per cent through Altamir, its quoted co-investment vehicle, and bringing in Compagine Financiere Edmond de Rothschild for the balance.

Alain Afflelou, which has more than 430 franchised outlets, increased its sales by 15 per cent to FFr 2 billion last year and expects to add a further eight per cent to turnover in 2000. Between 1997 and 1999, Alain Afflelou increased its net profits from FFr 44 million to FFr 74 million.

Commenting on the deal, Alain Afflelou says: “I wanted to regain control of the company I created 15 years ago: I still have great ambitions for the firm, both within France and in other markets. I believe that Apax Partners, whose expertise in the specialist distribution sector is well known, will contribute significantly to the group’s development.”